The National Rifle Association (NRA) has courted controversy by commissioning an author to rewrite classic children's stories, with guns. So far, two books have been published on the NRA's family outreach website.
US anti-firearms campaigners denounced the NRA's decision to weave guns into reworked children's fairy tales including "Hansel and Gretel."
The new version of the Brothers Grimm classic, which describes how the impoverished brother and sister "had been taught how to safely use a gun," has been described as a "disgusting, morally depraved marketing campaign," by Dan Gross, President of the anti-gun Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
The adapted story was published this week on the NRA Family website, while an adaptation of "Little Red Riding Hood" was quietly released in January. The NRA also plans a retelling of "The Three Little Pigs."
Oh grandma, what a big gun you have!
In the new "Riding Hood," the girl and her grandmother protect themselves from the wolf with their guns. At one point, the story describes how the grandmother confronts the wolf, who shows up at her home, looking to make her his meal.
"The wolf leaned in, jaws open wide, then stopped suddenly," the story reads. "Those big eyes looked down and saw that grandma had a scattergun aimed right at him. "I don't think I'll be eaten today," said Grandma, "and you won't be eating anyone again."
Children's author Amelia Hamilton - who retold the stories - defended her work. She said the original stories were very violent and that teaching children about security would allow them to prevent such situations.
Fairy tales vs 'cold hard truth'
But the Brady Campaign's Dan Gross accused the NRA itself of living in a fairy tale world where children are not harmed by guns.
"The NRA continues to stoop to new lows in the hopes of shoving guns into America's youngest hands," said Gross. "If nothing else, this approach demonstrates just how desperate the organization has become to sell more guns - it must now advertise deadly weapons to kids by perverting childhood classics."
Gross added that nearly 50 children are shot each day in the US, while suicide by firearm is the leading cause of death among children older than nine.
Children increasingly targeted
The NRA, a powerful US gun lobby, has long made initiatives for children - the next generation of future gun owners - a key part of its outreach.
The release of the reworked tales follows a new study which revealed how the firearms industry is targeting children as young as six with brightly colored guns.
The Violence Policy Center, which aims to stop gun violence, said gun manufacturers were marketing to the youngest consumers because their primary market - white men - was aging.
Around 30,000 people are killed in America every year by guns, mostly in suicides.
There are an estimated 350 million firearms in the United States - nearly one for each of the 318 million people officially living in the US.Many Americans remain fiercely protective of their right to carry arms, despite several mass shootings at schools, colleges and shopping malls in recent years.
Petition for arms at Republican convention
Separately, an online petition is calling for attendees to be allowed to carry licensed guns at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July. As of Sunday, the petition had raised 31,032 signatures.
The venue for the convention, the Quicken Loans Arena, strictly forbids the carry of firearms on their premises.
The group behind the petition, Americans For Responsible Open Carry, claims that the arena's policy is "a direct affront to the Second Amendment and puts all attendees at risk."
"By forcing attendees to leave their firearms at home, the RNC and Quicken Loans Arena are putting tens of thousands of people at risk both inside and outside of the convention site," the petition text continued.
"Without the right to protect themselves, those at the Quicken Loans Arena will be sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life," the petition states.
nm/jm (AFP, dpa)