When I was a kid, I spent countless hours in the library reading Greek myths, Aesop's fables and Grimm's fairy tales. Dr. Seuss and Uncle Remus were also favorites. I eventually shared them with my sons along with Maurice Sendak's books and Goodnight Moon. In all those years it never occurred to me that classics could be revised or improved. Then, thanks to the National Rifle Association (NRA), I found they could—and would! In fact, two revised stories were posted on the NRA Family website (NRAFamily.org) recently—"Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun)" and "Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns)." They were written by "lifelong writer, patriot and conservative blogger," Amelia Hamilton.
I don't know about you, but I don't associate the NRA with children's literature any more than I associate the Utah Legislature with evenhandedness. In fact, I question the NRA's motive for arming Hansel, Gretel and Red Riding Hood. It has more to do with politics than the belle-lettres, no doubt about that, and while I am skeptical of revisionism, I grudgingly acknowledge the right of the NRA, unimpeded by copyright, to tamper. I remind myself that there are seven versions of Blade Runner. On the other hand, Ted Turner backed away from colorizing Citizen Kane, Orson Welles' classic black-and-white film.
Hamilton's stories are accompanied by an editor's note: "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?" Well, no, I haven't wondered, but I expect that outspoken gun advocates, like Utah's Curtis Oda and Clark Aposhian, have. The Second Amendment crowd is going to love the NRA's stories about kids with guns. Those who worry about kids and guns are not.
Hamilton has said her stories are about gun safety and self-protection. I think they advance the belief that to be unarmed is to be a potential victim. Red Riding Hood's grandma won't be eaten by the wolf if she has a gun close at hand. It is a specious argument because it assumes granny is practiced at reactive shooting.
Here's the view of this former Army infantryman: Those who choose to carry a pistol must be skilled enough to unholster it and hit the target with the first round—even when adrenalin is churning their nervous systems. The State of Utah doesn't agree. It blithely issues concealed-carry permits to people who have never fired a gun. So, as a rebuff to Utah and the NRA, I offer my own repurposing of "Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun)":
Once upon a time there was a girl who always wore a red hoodie and Chucks when riding her Mongoose BMX bike. Her handle was "Red Riding Hood." "Red," for short.
One day Red decided to visit her grandmother on the far side of the forest. Traversing the forest's dark interior was risky: No cellphone coverage and a prevalence of perverts, predators and poison ivy in the understory. She was not unprepared, however. On a mother-daughter outing, Red had acquired a Utah concealed-firearm permit. Even though neither she nor her mother had ever fired a gun, both were licensed to carry one.
"Make sure you take my Beretta," her mother said as Red got ready.
"Aw, mom," Red complained. "I forget how it works and it's heavy."
"Don't be silly. All you do is click the safety and pull the trigger."
Red set off on a single-track trail through the forest. Along the way she waved to Bambi and stopped to chat with Snow White. The seven dwarves had started a landscaping company, Snow White confided.
Red rode on. Deep in the forest, a wolf slunk out of the shadows and blocked the trail. "Wassup?" it said with a toothy grin. Red was wary. "I am on my way to my grandmother's," she said. "I don't have time to talk with strangers." She pedaled off, calling, "Have a nice day!"
Sensing opportunity, the wolf raced ahead to Red's grandmother's house. He shouldered the back door open and made a quick meal of the old woman. He then donned her nightgown, frilly nightcap and climbed into bed.
As Red pedaled up to her grandmother's house, she noticed the dwarves xeriscaping a neighbor's yard. "Hi, you guys!" she shouted as she parked the bike and walked to the porch. She cracked the front door. "Grandmother, it's me!"
"What a surprise!" said the wolf in falsetto. "Come in!"
Red walked into the bedroom and appraised the situation. "What big ears you have," she said tentatively.
"The better to hear you with, my dear," said the wolf.
"What big eyes you have."
"The better to see you with, my dear."
"What big teeth you have."
"The better to eat you with!" the wolf growled.
As the wolf threw back the blankets, Red yanked the Beretta from its holster. Blam! Blam! Blam! Five rounds shattered a shelf of Hummel figurines and a table lamp. A smoke detector wailed. Red bolted for the door. The wolf, its ears ringing, tore off the nightgown and followed. The dwarves heard the ruckus and came running. In the front yard, Red turned and fired again at the wolf. Two rounds kicked up dirt at its paws; a third shattered the bay window. The wolf tucked and rolled. Blam! Blam! Blam! Red's fusillade sent the dwarves diving for cover. Sleepy took a round in the leg. Red's last bullet grazed Dopey's shoulder. Then it was suddenly very quiet. Red was looking at the empty pistol when the wolf jumped her.