The National Rifle Association has added a new twist to classic fairy tales: arming protagonists with guns.
NRA Family, the group's family-oriented website, has so far published updates to two classic tales, the most recent one last week: "Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns).” The pro-gun group said the revised stories show what would have happened if those fairy tale characters had weapons.
But the revisionist take on some of well-known children's favorites, which appear online, are drawing complaints from gun-control advocacy groups that call the altered tales a disturbingly depraved marketing campaign.
"The NRA continues to stoop to new lows in the hopes of shoving guns into America's youngest hands," Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said today. "It must now advertise deadly weapons to kids by perverting childhood classics with no regard whatsoever for the real life carnage happening every day. To be frank, it's pathetic."
The NRA said the stories, written by Amelia Hamilton, whom the NRA calls a “conservative blogger” and “lifelong writer and patriot,” are part of an effort to promote responsible firearm use by children. The accident prevention program it oversees has helped teach more than 28 million kids about how to stay safe if they find a gun, according to the NRA's website.
"Most of us probably grew up having fairy tales read to us as we drifted off to sleep,” the NRA said in an editor’s note announcing the series earlier this year. “But how many times have you thought back and realized just how, well, grim some of them are?"
The NRA released a new version of the Brothers Grimm "Hansel and Gretel" last week after publishing an update to "Little Red Riding Hood" in January.
At no point in either story do the protagonists fire their weapons at the fictional villains, but guns are portrayed as key to keeping them safe.
In the NRA's version of "Hansel and Gretel," the pair are shown hunting for deer and other wildlife when they discover an evil witch's house. They then proceed to free a pair of boys held captive by her, guns at the ready.
"The hinges gave a groan and the sound of the witch's snoring stopped," one passage reads. "Gretel got her rifle ready, but lowered it again when the snoring resumed."
A witch kidnaps the siblings in the original version, though they ultimately flee and live happily ever after, with no guns in sight.
An unarmed young girl and her grandmother similarly escape the belly of the Big Bad Wolf in the Brothers Grimm version of "Little Red Riding Hood.”
In the update to "Little Red Riding Hood," however, there is a series of gun-toting events. One passage gives the showdown with the Big Bad Wolf a new twist.
"Those big ears heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun's safety being clicked off," the NRA version reads. "Those big eyes looked down and saw that grandma had a scattergun aimed right at him."
Grandma is able to hold the wolf at gunpoint while Little Red Riding Hood ties up the beast before a huntsman takes away the animal.
"As they slowly began to feel calm, Red got her grandmother chicken soup and a cup of tea," according to the NRA tale. "They sat in companionable silence, happy in the security that comes with knowing they could defend themselves."