The VPC claims parents are encouraged to let children access guns at the earliest age
A new report into the American gun industry has claimed children as young as six are being lured into shooting by brightly coloured weapons.
The US-based Violence Policy Center (VPC), which aims to stop gun violence, says gun manufacturers are marketing to the youngest consumers because their primary market of white men is aging.
The study has also found that parents are being encouraged to let children take up shooting at an early age.
Some manufacturers are making rifles with plastic parts to make them lighter and easier to handle - as well as in colours like pink to attract girls.
The 54-page 'Start Them Young' report documents what it says is on-going efforts by the gun industry and lobby to market guns to children.
"In recent years these efforts have intensified with little regard for the lethal consequences: the use of guns by children and teens in suicides, homicides, fatal unintentional shootings, and even mass murder", it says.
The study reveals the scope of this marketing through gun industry advertisements, marketing documents and quotes.
It also cites National Rifle Association (NRA) articles and for its 'Junior Members' and articles 'For Kids By Kids' in the youth-oriented gun publication 'Junior Shooters'.
It also includes numerous examples of how the firearms industry and gun lobby are targeting children.
It says they are designing and marketing guns specifically for children and marketing guns in child-friendly colours - including pink rifles and pistols intended for girls and women from a wide range of manufacturers.
The report also says the industry is encouraging parents to let their children access guns at the earliest possible age.
"Until it changed recently to the NRA Family website, the NRA’s Junior Members website, NRA Family InSights, featured two subsections: 'Under 8' and '8 and Up'. Both included a subsection titled 'Guns'", the VPC says.
VPC executive director Josh Sugarmann says: "Imagine the public outcry if the alcohol or tobacco industries introduced child-friendly versions of their adult products".
"Or imagine if they devised a plan to deploy 'youth ambassadors' to convince their playmates to join them in these adult activities".
"Yet the firearms industry and gun lobby are doing all of these things and more in their aggressive efforts to market guns to children", he added.