Who owns Wee 1 Tactical? Company unveils JR-15 assault rifle for CHILDREN, 'just like dad's gun'
'Just like mom and dad's gun,' says firm as it launches a smaller assault rifle aimed at 'capturing the imagination of the next generation'
As the Oxford School shooting by Ethan Crumbley showed, the US has a major issue keeping firearms out of the reach of children. Despite that, one gun company thought it was a great idea to create an assault rifle just for kids, complete with real ammunition. The JR-15 is modeled on the AR-15 assault rifle, but is 20% smaller and weighs just 2.3lbs. The gun is the brainchild of Wee1 Tactical, an Illinois-based gun company.
Easy access to guns by children has led to not just deadly attacks like the ones perpetrated by Crumbley and Timothy Simpkins but has other long-lasting effects as well. In New York, police frequently conduct checks on campuses to ensure no weapons are being brought in, taking available resources away from where they are needed. It's also left parents on edge, while schools struggle to find ways to keep children safe in case they are attacked.
According to Everytown Research, 18,000 children and teens are shot and killed each year, making firearms the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 1 and 19. Not only does that figure represent homicides, but worrying suicides as well. Yet, Wee1 Tactical thought it was a good idea to launch an assault rifle just for kids.
Who owns Wee1 Tactical?
The owner of the company has been identified as Eric Schmid, who also happens to own Schmid Tool. He was seen promoting the JR-15 in multiple YouTube videos from SHOT Show 2022. According to a LinkedIn profile, the based businessman has owned Schmid Tool since May 1995. The only other thing the profile mentions is that he graduated in 1995 from The University of Utah with a BFA degree.
Interestingly, Schmid Tool's website claims to be a "women-owned family business," so it's not clear how Schmid is connected to the company. The firm specializes in "precision CNC machining and turning services" and "custom assembly services." Fast Company's report on the story says Wee1 is an offshoot of Schmid Tool, which appears to be the case since both company's logos are seen at SHOT Show on YouTube. A press release also says Schmid Tool has been "the firearms market for over 40 years," with over 30 years of experience in providing "firearms components to our customers in the AR-15 market."
Little else is known about Schmid, who appears to maintain a very low profile online. He has no public Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts, and the Wee1 Tactical website doesn't mention his name at all. In fact, the only way we know he is associated with the brand is via several YouTube videos, including one from SHOT Show's official channel. In that video, Schmid says the company's logo "Keeps the wow factor with the kids." In that video, he also talks about the JR-15, and its advantages.
'Safety at the forefront'
"Safety was so much at the forefront of our thought process," a promotional PDF for the JR-15 explains. A press release says "we developed and patented a tamper-resistant safety that puts the adult in control of the firearms safety switch." otherwise, the JR-15 is designed to look and feel just like an AR-15. The company says the gun is meant to "safely help adults introduce children to the shooting sports."
However, it seems like the company has more than sport on its mind. "Our goal was to develop a shooting platform that was not only sized correctly, and safe, but also looks, feels, and operates just like Mom and Dad’s gun," the PDF says. It appears that the gun supports actual bullets, in either one, five, or 10 round magazines. The news has gun control activists reacting in horror. "I think what makes the WEE1 JR-15 really just so horrific is the fact that it’s saying the quiet part out loud. There’s no shame," said Josh Sugarmann, founder and executive director of Violence Policy Center.
Even California Governor Gavin Newsom has weighed in, tweeting, "This is VILE. A skull & crossbones with a pacifier on weapon of war. Made to look “cute” to appeal to kids. The manufacturer calls this a “JR-15.” Every NRA-backed politician should condemn this," on February 17, 2022.
This is VILE.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) February 17, 2022
A skull & crossbones with a pacifier on weapon of war.
Made to look “cute” to appeal to kids.
The manufacturer calls this a “JR-15.”
Every NRA-backed politician should condemn this. pic.twitter.com/VmsqaiCuEM
"I’ve never seen one that’s just an egregiously tactical, offensive weapon of war," noted Ryan Busse, a former firearms executive. He added, "To say that they’re nonlethal—that’s a joke." However, the backlash appears to have done little to dent Wee1's enthusiasm. The company is still promoting the gun on Facebook and is calling for dealers to sell the weapon on its website.