Wednesday, May 08, 2013

That Special Gift

(Click on image to enlarge and then hustle on back.)

I've held off on commenting on the story of the 5-year-old who shot and killed his baby sister with his very own bb gun for several reasons.  First of all, I knew that I would be waking up my libertoonian nephew who is no doubt going to give me gas on the story.  But second of all, I held off because I have some conflicting views (sorta kinda) on the whole issue.

David Horsey, however, has crystallized my thinking (sorta kinda) to some extent.

This week, a 5-year-old Kentucky boy was playing with the mini-rifle he had gotten as a gift and ended up shooting and killing his 2-year-old sister. Apparently, even kindergartners have a right to keep and bear arms that shall not be infringed.

For many people, it was a revelation that there are companies that manufacture guns specifically for children. The boy in question had a Crickett rifle, a smaller version of an adult weapon designed specifically for little trigger fingers. The guns come in a variety of happy colors, including pink and even swirls.

Some people think giving guns that shoot real bullets to kids is a rather insane idea, but not folks in the gun culture, where it is perfectly normal. A state legislator in Kentucky, Rep. Robert R. Damron, insisted that the kiddie rifle was not the problem.   [Emphasis added]

Now, as to my first concern:  there are a lot of hunters among my family back in Wisconsin.  They hunt deer, duck, quail, whatever the season calls for.  And they eat what they kill.  Because it's a generational thing, the kids do get guns before they're 18, but I'd like to think that the kids are also given a great deal of gun safety training, perhaps even by the NRA.  I have no problem with that.  So John?  You can relax a little.

My second concern, however,  is the fact that kids as young as 5 are being targeted with size and design and color (making it look like a toy), and that at least this gun was accessible to the 5-year-old at a time when he wasn't being monitored.  What is up with that?

In California, all guns (even bb guns) must by law be locked in a gun safe or have a trigger lock in place.  It's hard for me to imagine why this kind of law isn't on the books everywhere.  Obviously it isn't.  The combination of the two concerns was deadly in this case.  The child thinks guns, all guns, are toys to be played with and so guns, all guns, can be played with.  That 9mm in the drawer next to the bed to shoot intruders is just as much a plaything as the baby bb gun is. 

And that is just wrong.  Tragically so.

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Blogger John Gardner said...

nitpick: the second amendment isn't about hunting.

shooting is also a competitive sport. there are several Olympic events, in both winter + summer games. when you were a kid, I bet the Milwaukee high schools had even had shooting team. ok, maybe not MKE, but a ton of rural schools did, and still do.

A lot of kids are properly trained to shoot.

As for why this child still had access to his gun with no supervision? that is insane.

guns are not toys. even my 4 year old knows this. (ironically, while E has toy guns, that is not by my doing!) He's deeply ingrained that you don't point even toy or pretend guns at people, you don't pretend guns at school, etc. And I've even heard him repeat those things to other children he's playing with.

As for "marketing towards children", that isn't exactly true. there aren't commercials or tv shows or ads in kids magazines. They are marketed towards the parents, who buy them for the children. The colors are simply personalization.

The "child sizes" are for ergonomics. Why teach a kid to use a gun that is impossible to hold and impossible to use correctly? that would be like teaching 16 year olds how to drive semis.

Part of the problem is that kids see guns on tv (even in kids shows, like power rangers!), and the current climate of irrational fear of guns means that a lot of parents refuse to teach their children anything about guns, even safety. Because of this, they only know what they see on TV, which is a huge amount of stupidity, violation of every one of the "4 rules" of gun safety.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous ThinlyVeiled said...

Slight correction: It was a .22 caliber rifle, not a BB gun.

And will just add, I was raised in a gun-owning, hunting household. The VERY FIRST THING I was taught as a child, regarding guns, was that YOU ARE NOT OLD ENOUGH FOR THAT. I was not allowed to handle a weapon until I was probably ten or so, and then only under the strictest of adult supervision. When we were done with the lesson, Mom or Dad took the gun, unloaded it, and locked it up where it belonged. Giving a weapon of ANY kind to a toddler is just plain nuts and anyone who argues for it is nuts as well. A child of that age cannot even begin to understand the concept of "responsibility," much less the possible consequences of their actions. Children of that age have no comprehension of the permanence of death.

3:58 PM  
Blogger thurbers said...

Sorry, but the second amendment became moot once we had a standing army. You want a gun, join the military or the national guard since THEY are the well regulated militia. Everything else, well that's up for grabs. Or it should be, that is if you actually read the damn amendment. And since there are many arms that are regulated, well we well know that that no regulation bit is garbage.

As to marketing toward children - it isn't just ergonomics - it is making them look like toys.

But let's face it, the problem isn't the media, despite lots of people trying to make it so. It isn't like most other countries have the same the problems we do. Hell, the gun lobby had to pass a law so we didn't actually keep track of how many gun incidents we have in this country. Nope, it is both the ease at which guns are acquired and the carelessness with which we treat them. We are a careless people. We allow our bridges to rot, our cars to run out of oil, our roofs to leak, our hoes and our plows to rust. Why should we teach our children respect for guns, when we have none ourselves. It wasn't just that they were stupid and thoughtless and careless enough to give a deadly weapon to a child, it is that they left that deadly weapon loaded and leaning in a corner. Fuck the idea that the media did this - a well thought out marketing plan and stupidity did this.

And much of the stupidity is the idea that these guns should be allowed to exist at all (no ergonomically correct guns for children under twelve), or that stupid careless people should have easy access to deadly weapons. You want a gun, you need to have to work to get it - background checks (for you and everyone in your household), extensive training, proving that you have appropriate storage. Screw this jump on the internet and order a gun shit.

I'm tired of living in a country where the profits of gun manufacturers mean that we have to be careless with our children OR that I cannot go to the movies without fearing that a couple of drunks will decide to shoot the place up because they think the guy in the hoodie is a gunman. (Because if you don't think that one is coming soon, you aren't paying attention.

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