Tag Archives: My First Rifle

Where Gun Design Meets Crib Design

Aaron Coston Crib

John Browning Crib designed by Aaron Coston, images and information via Guns and Tactics

The above crib pays homage to the prodigious gun designer John Moses Browning (who created among other classics, the M1911 pistol that was standard-issue for the army for nearly 75 years and–interesting trivia–is the state gun of Utah). The front railing of the crib was designed to emulate the stocks of two 1895 Winchester lever-action rifles, the crib poles are made of steel rifle barrels, the headboard features Browning’s “buckmark” insignia and cut-outs of the Auto 5 shotgun. There are additional, subtler gun details that you can read about at Guns and Tactics but rest assured that  a great deal of thought, planning, and design ingenuity went into this piece.

The crib was created by gun-lover Aaron Coston when he learned that his wife was expecting their first child. He built it specifically to highlight the aesthetic and formal aspects of Browning’s designs:

…so many youth these days are indoctrinated with the idea that guns are bad. Guns are evil, and they’re only used to hurt people. I wanted my child to offer the contrasting truth as he grew up, that guns are beautiful, they aren’t evil, and the best time to start was right away.

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This crib points out an interesting aspect of our built environment and the way that we use objects to train our minds. Coston thinks that placing his child in the environment of the Browning Crib-–because it is a well-crafted, beautiful object—will encourage the child to appreciate the beauty of guns. So the crib is a teaching tool, a device that lets this dad tell a particular narrative about the place of firearms in society and culture. But it is also a way for Coston to affirm his own relationship with firearms and it probably serves as a reminder to him and his wife that guns are very much a part of their lives and the life they want to give their child.

I’m been writing a fair number of posts lately on guns and children and war toys. I think I’m so fascinated by this because objects created for children can reveal underlying social ideas about what makes a good life and a good human being. What are the objects that will train future citizens to be awesome? How should they think about those objects? As this crib demonstrates, there is a (not insignificant) portion of the US population that sees firearms as meaningful tools for citizenry.

Aaron Coston Crib 2

John Browning Crib designed by Aaron Coston, images and information via Guns and Tactics

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Guns for Kids

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Images from the website of Keystone Sporting Arms, via MotherJones

Mother Jones recently ran a piece about Keystone Sporting Arms, the company that made and sold the child’s rifle used by a 5-year-old in the accidental shooting of his sister last week. The story is accompanied by images from the company’s “kid’s corner” photo gallery. Children, mostly girls, ranging in age from about 4 months to 14 years are shown posing with their rifles or proudly pointing to paper targets or dead animals.

But when I look at these pictures, I don’t see Future Gun Nuts of America but rather young people who are working to master a skill that takes a challenging amount of responsibility. These kids probably feel very good to be trusted with something potentially deadly– and satisfied when they use it properly. I know this probably a controversial stance but I see teaching an elementary schooler to correctly store, care for, and shoot a rifle as not too far from teaching a 4 year old how to chop carrots (not to mention this 11-month-old using a machete). Giving kids responsibility and challenging them in a safe environment with child-appropriate tools is probably a good thing.

That said, I don’t think it is appropriate to market firearms directly to children. But that is mostly because I don’t think products should be marketed to children at all. In 1980, the Canadian province of Quebec banned advertising aimed at youth under the age of 13 with a 1989 Supreme Court Ruling that “advertising directed at young children is per se manipulative. Such advertising aims to promote products by convincing those who will always believe.” Adult consumers have enough trouble parsing the constant bombardment of ads. I don’t think that most children are adept at separating marketing fiction from fact.

That said, The New York Times‘ coverage of the guns-marketed-to-youth trend is a undeniably chilling. Dr. Jess P. Shatkin, the director of undergraduate studies in child and adolescent mental health at New York University, is quoted in the NYT story saying that

young people are naturally impulsive and that their brains “are engineered to take risks,” making them ill suited for handling guns. “There are lots of ways to teach responsibility to a kid,” Dr. Shatkin said. “You don’t need a gun to do it.”

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