Red Ryder and a Gun for Christmas

Mention Christmas and guns and most people will instantly think of Ralphie, the lead character in the 1983 movie A Christmas Story, which was based on humorist Jean Shepherd’s semi-autobiographical tale in his 1966 book, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.

The story is set in 1939, and it’s not surprising that Ralphie was fixated on a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun: it was a hot item because it was brand-new. Daisy introduced the Red Ryder model in 1938, just a couple of years after Fred Harmon began the Red Ryder comic strip, and it’s still for sale today, nearly 40 years after the last comic strip ran. The Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun may well be the longest-running licensed product in history.

Guns and Christmas were an American Christmas tradition long before 1939, though. A 1903 ad shows Santa with a Stevens-Duryea automobile chock full of Stevens firearms destined for young folks. Ads urging parents to buy their boys a rifle or shotgun for Christmas were common in mass-market and youth-oriented magazines. Grown-ups weren’t left out: A Colt ad from the late 1930s suggested that Dad add a gun for himself to his holiday shopping.

It’s hard to imagine ads like these appearing in a popular magazine today. The shrieks of outrage from the gun-grabbers would be deafening. But it might be fun to run an ad for a Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 – if you could find a publication willing to accept it. Even promoting a Savage 64F or Winchester Wildcat might be enough to cause a temper tantrum on Pennsylvania Avenue.

But the fact remains that a holiday gift of a first gun is not only a time-honored tradition, it’s one of the best ways to spark a life-long interest in guns and the shooting sports along with a deeper understanding of our unique right to keep and bear arms. The best way to counter any propaganda is to prove that it’s untrue. Combined with parental supervision and guidance and some family fun at a shooting range, gun ownership is not only safe, it’s fun.

There is no fixed age; every young person is unique and the parent has to be the one to make that judgment. The gift of a rifle isn’t gender-specific, either. Heck, a new firearm is always at the top of this girl’s list- I have been pining for a Beretta Silver Pigeon for a long time! (Among, ya know, other very cool firearms) I’m not the only one! Just park your preconceived notions and the door and look at who some of the top shooters are in youth match competitions right here in Texas.

There’s still time to make the holidays very special for a young person in your life. It just might be time to pass your enjoyment of firearms on to the next generation.

The Red Ryder image is copyright © 1990 Red Ryder Enterprises, Inc.. Fair use claimed for the image used in the avatar on the News page.