Imagine a world where the characters from your favorite childhood fairy tales and fables are armed.
Hansel with a hunting rifle. Or Little Red Riding Hood’s granny with a shotgun.
That world now exists on the National Rifle Association’s NRA Family website, which partnered with author Amelia Hamilton “to present her twist on those classic tales” — a series that has infuriated gun-control advocates, some of whom called it “disgusting.”
Gun-rights supporters say the stories — which started with “Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun)” and continued with “Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns)” — are a more peaceful alternative to the often disturbing fairy tales from childhood.
“The stories are really also for adults,” Hamilton told CBS News on Friday morning. “It’s all about safety and it’s for parents to start those conversations.”
Hamilton’s latest story, published last week, tells the revised tale of “Hansel and Gretel,” who “had been taught how safely to use a gun and had been hunting with their parents most of their lives” — and who took their survival skills into the woods.
Remember: The original portrays the children as starving siblings who are abandoned in the woods and stumble upon a candy house. A witch inside captures them and prepares them as her next meal.
“In the original ‘Hansel and Gretel,’ the plot of the story is that the village is starving so they leave Hansel and Gretel in the woods to starve to death because the parents can’t afford to feed them,” Hamilton said this week on the NRA’s “Cam & Company” show.
Hamilton said that her takes on the classic tales were “much kinder” stories than the originals.
“In my version,” she said, “they were just going to go explore some different areas of the woods and see if they could come up with something to help feed the family, which apparently is a million times worse than sending your children to starve to death alone in the woods.”
The gun-rights twist depicts the pair as heroes who had gone hunting and discovered other kids captured by the witch:
Hansel heard it first and stopped his sister, and they both heard it again. ”Help us!” the whisper said, as Hansel and Gretel looked to see who it was. “We’re in the gingerbread cottage,” the whisper continued. “The witch has us!” They went to the window, where they saw two young boys, clearly brothers, locked in a cage before a simmering pot.
“We thought nobody would ever come!” the boy whispered excitedly, seeing Hansel and Gretel. “We have been here a week. The witch is fattening us up to make us into a stew! I don’t know how much time we have left.” Hansel and Gretel exchanged horrified glances.
“Where is the witch now?” Gretel asked.
“Asleep,” the boy replied, looking over his shoulder, towards the bedroom from which they could hear the soft sounds of snoring.
“We’re going to get you out of here,” Hansel told the boy, hoisting himself up and climbing into the window, helping Gretel in after him, for he was stronger than his sister.
The boys directed Hansel to the key that would unlock their cage while Gretel stood at the ready with her firearm just in case, for she was a better shot than her brother. Hansel unlocked the cage and opened the door. The hinges gave a groan and the sound of the witch’s snoring stopped, the silence filling the room as they looked at each other in panic. Gretel got her rifle ready, but lowered it again when the snoring resumed.
Needless to say, the children made it home:
After reuniting the boys with their parents, it was time to take on the witch … and get some hunting done in the meantime. Villagers, prepared with rifles and pistols, headed into the forest, Hansel and Gretel leading the way.
When they came upon the witch’s cottage, the sheriff locked her into the cage in which the boys had been locked just the night before, to be taken away so she could never harm another child. The sheriff stood guard as the villagers hunted, coming back with more game than they had been able to find in months. There in the woods, the village held a feast.
Hamilton previously developed the same idea for “Little Red Riding Hood” — a little girl with a “rifle over her shoulder and a basket for her Grandmother.”
In that story, an armed grandma was the heroine:
The wolf leaned in, jaws open wide, then stopped suddenly. Those big ears heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun’s safety being clicked off. Those big eyes looked down and saw that grandma had a scattergun aimed right at him. He realized that Grandmother hadn’t been backing away from him; she had been moving towards her shotgun to protect herself and her home.
“I don’t think I’ll be eaten today,” said Grandma, “and you won’t be eating anyone again.”
Grandma kept her gun trained on the wolf, who was too scared to move.
A huntsman removed the wolf from the cabin.
Hamilton said on “Cam & Company” that there’s now a “Three Little Pigs” story in the works.
A conservative blogger who calls herself “a lifelong writer and patriot,” Hamilton initially consented to an interview with The Washington Post, then said she had no comment.
NRA Family first announced the new series in January in an editor’s note.
“Most of us probably grew up having fairy tales read to us as we drifted off to sleep,” the announcement read. “But how many times have you thought back and realized just how, well, grim some of them are? Did any of them ever make your rest a little bit uneasy? Have you ever wondered what those same fairy tales might sound like if the hapless Red Riding Hoods, Hansels and Gretels had been taught about gun safety and how to use firearms?”
The idea drew mixed reactions amid the continuing battle between gun-rights advocates holding tight to their Second Amendment rights and gun-control activists concerned with incidents involving children and guns.
So far in 2016, at least 52 children under age 18 have picked up a firearm and accidentally shot themselves or someone else, according to data from the gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Earlier this month, a Florida mother who bragged on Facebook that her 4-year-old son “gets jacked up to target shoot” was wounded when the child got his hands on a gun in the back seat of her vehicle and shot her in the back. The mother now faces a misdemeanor charge for allowing a minor unsupervised access to a firearm.
On Friday, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said the NRA had “freshened things up with a few familiar faces from the world’s most beloved fairy tales — and armed them with guns.”
“Make no mistake, this is a disgusting, morally depraved marketing campaign,” Dan Gross, the organization’s president, said in a statement. “The NRA continues to stoop to new lows in the hopes of shoving guns into America’s youngest hands. 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 with no regard whatsoever for the real life carnage happening every day.
“To be frank, it’s pathetic.”
The NRA did not respond to several requests for comment.
Earlier, the group Repeal the Second Amendment said on Facebook: “This is how the gun lobby promotes gun culture.”
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said it was the”degenerate culture that corrupts children and encourages them to take on significant, and unnecessary, risks.”
Gun-rights activist Bob Owens, editor of BearingArms.com, responded to the criticism, writing that the first installment in the NRA’s fairy tale series was “a lot less violent that the original tale with no one being murdered, drowned, or cannibalized. “But that bloodless outcome has apparently upset the delicate sensibilities of Media Matters and their audience,” he said, “because Ms. Hamilton had both Red Riding Hood and her grandmother use firearms to self-rescue themselves and capture the wolf.”
Owens further commented on a post by the liberal site Media Matters.
“So you would rather have one of the more traditional endings to the tale,” he wrote, “where the grandmother is slaughtered and fed to her granddaughter by a sadistic predator, or Red is violently murdered for being allegorically promiscuous, than have both women confidently and competently save themselves with a tool?”
Hamilton, the author, told CBS News she was surprised that it seems many people “didn’t read them before criticizing.”
This story has been updated.