She gave up having her friends get together for a sleepover at Grandma’s house so she would be well-rested and ready for the gun show last weekend at the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center.
In a twist that puts checking out ammunition and firearms before the typical elementary girl sleepover fun – hairdos, painting nails and watching movies – Kira LaMagdeleine, age nine of Chugiak, exudes what it means to be an Alaska girl.
“When my friends come over for a sleepover, they don’t go to sleep,” she said, noting that she wanted to be at the gun show when it opened.
After all, she has lots of friends there as well.
The third-grader is a regular attendee of the area gun show circuit. She knows all the usual vendors and greets many of them with a hug. New vendors quickly become her friends as well.
Her grandparents – Mike and Debra LaMagdeleine, also from Chugiak – are Kira’s regular escorts to local gun shows.
Both having served in the U.S. Air Force and both gun owners, they wanted their granddaughter to not just understand but practice the standard gun safety practices.
“Treat a gun as if it is,” Grandpa Mike said waiting for Kira’s response.
“Always loaded,” the bright-eyed redhead replied.
“Yes,” Mike beamed back.
His Vietnam Veteran ball cap barely contained the smile that spread across his face.
The trio – Grandma, Grandpa and Kira – were checking out the extensive collection of service rifles used by soldiers in World War II presented by the Alaska Machine Gun Club when the ECHO News caught up with them at the gun.
Kira was listening intently as “Tom” – a club member with a military and police background that forces him to keep his full identity and picture out of the news media – told her about the specifications of each long rifle, which country it came from and the unique technological advances it represented at the time.
“Tom’s” level of knowledge was matched only by Kira’s willingness to listen and absorb.
The rifles with bayonets piqued her attention.
“I did not know that guns could have knives on them too,” she said. Her next observation perhaps opens the opportunity for a warfare tactics lesson. “I guess they did that so they can stab and shoot at the same time.”
Her innocent comment being nowhere near the truth of combat made others in the room appreciate her genuine interest even more. Tom smiled at Kira’s observation and helped her fit a World War I helmet on her head.
“Have you learned much about World War II yet,” this reporter asked her.
“Oh, no,” she said, noting that she is a third grade student. “That isn’t until fifth grade.”
What she has learned is the value of the bullseye.
Proud and prepared grandmother that she is, Grandma Deb pulled out her cellular phone to show off photos of Kira’s recent targets in which more of the center rings document the fact that bullets hit and tore the paper.
“I have an eagle eye,” Kira said with a grin, adding that Grandpa Mike gave her that bit of knowledge.
For Deb and Mike, the gun shows are a place they believe their granddaughter is safe to roam the aisles without them constantly watching her. They say the vendors and visitors at gun shows are the kind of folks they want her to associate with and learn from.
For Kira, the gun show was also a place to put in an appearance – literally.
She may like guns, but she is also a girl’s girl. She donned her best red dress with its sash and bow at her waist and black ankle-high boots with fancy buckles for the occasion.
“Oh, yes, she dressed up alright,” Grandpa Mike noted. “Of course, she did. It is a gun show.”