This video may prove shocking if you're not accustomed to seeing children handling guns. On the American blogosphere however, 11-year-old McKenzie has attracted great admiration.

The video of an eleven-year-old girl assembling a rifle in record time is causing a stir on the web. Largely admired in the US, the video has attracted such comments as "beware terrorists", "don't break her heart or she'll murder your whole family" and "this girl is awesome". However, in places where learning to use a gun at a tender age is not exactly commonplace the video has raised concern over children's access to guns - particularly since it involves a country infamous for its school shootings. Despite 1989 Child Access Prevention laws in place in many states, nearly 12 times more under-14-year-olds die from firearms incidents in the US compared with 25 other developed countries combined [according to the anti-gun violence Brady Campaign]. Nonetheless, owning a gun is a fundamental right in the US, and protected by the Second Amendment. Our Observers explain why.


Eleven-year-old McKenzie's record. Posted 12 January 08 by "gixxerguy811".

McKenzie at the shooting range

Posted 1 April 08 by "gixxerguy811".

"Guns were not made mysterious or glamorous [to me]"

Kent McManigal is a blogger who "loves guns, swords and knives, hiking, and primitive wilderness survival". He runs the blog Kent's "Hooligan Libertarian" Blog.

The first time I shot I was around 6 years old. My family always had guns in the house, not handguns, (...) only rifles and shotguns. I knew where they were and I knew where the ammunition was kept. (...) Guns were not made mysterious or glamorous, but were just a tool. It is my belief that the current push to "keep guns out of the hands of kids" is actually making kids more curious about guns, and less able to handle them safely.

I [take my children] out shooting with me. We go out into the back-country with several guns and "targets" (usually aluminium cans). My oldest daughter would hold and shoot a .22 revolver (with a LOT of help from me) when she was about three or four years old. Using .22 shot shells she could hit the can (just a few feet in front of her) and make it bounce. You could see the satisfaction in her eyes."

"A mentality of fear and distrust, not understanding"

Ladd Everitt works for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Do we feel that 11 year-olds in this country need to be doing Tactical Response training with handguns? No. Do we feel that 11 year-olds need to know how to field strip AR-15 rifles? No. Do we feel that there are potential safety risks to having children around firearms with this type of frequency? Absolutely. Particularly when you might be building a false confidence in them that they can safely handle firearms in all situations even when an adult is not present.

I think what you are seeing here is a product of a paranoid gun culture that has begun teaching even children that they must be armed and ready at all times to defend against not only their fellow citizens, but their democratic government as well. That breeds a mentality of fear and distrust, not understanding."

"Would your child do the same?"

Blogger Robb Allen, from Tampa Florida, is currently in the process of teaching his daughters, 3 and 6, about guns.

I got it in my head that I should paint [a rifle] in some sort of girlie colours and give it to my daughters. The Hello Kitty thing has been done to death, so I'm thinking Care Bears or My Little Pony. Of course, I have a plethora of themes to choose from off [the website] Noggin. Wow Wow Wubbzy could be kind of cool.

Anyway, I was working on pulling it apart when I heard my oldest daughter yell "Daddy! I found a gun!!! I'm leaving the room!" (...) Luckily for me, it was just the gun case for the .22, but she knew enough not to get near it. (...) Though only 5, my daughter knew not to touch what she thought was a gun. The very first thing she did was tell an adult. The next thing she did was leave the room. Would your child do the same?"