Reports of shootings from across the USA are so frequent that, unless there are multiple victims, as at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT., the news does not make it across the North Atlantic. Thousands die in gun incidents every year. Many of them are suicides. Many are the result of accidents. And some are even perpetrated by children.
Does this mean parents leave their weapons where kids can get hold of them? Nothing so subtle: those kids have their own guns. Seriously. There is even a firm manufacturing and marketing lethal weaponry to children hardly old enough to attend school. And two days ago, one of those children fired his rifle and killed his younger sister. Thus another avoidable gun death.
The boy concerned was just five years old. His sister was two. And he had been given the rifle at the age of four. It seems he and his mother were unaware that there was a live round in the weapon. A Police spokesman said “It’s just one of those nightmares — a quick thing that happens when you turn your back”. The local Coroner shrugged: it was “Just one of those crazy accidents”.
So what’s with four year olds being given guns that fire live ammo? Well, it’s a market like any other: indeed, Keystone Sporting Arms, under the Crickett brand name, market .22 calibre guns under the strapline “my first rifle”. They even sell a bright pink version for girls. Some 60,000 of these weapons were sold in 2008. Gets the kids used to shooting. Captures the market early.
And this incident was the fourth in a month where a child no older than five years old had either injured or killed someone with a gun. Piers Morgan, who has attempted in vain to reason with gun advocates, protested “Read this and tell me the answer is MORE guns” [“more guns” is the preferred solution of the National Rifle Association (NRA)]. Pro-gun Dana Loesch countered by dumping on the parents.
Others protest that we should “look over there”: cars, kitchen implements, farm machinery, swimming pools, sinkholes, twisters: all are held to kill many citizens every year. But guns are specifically designed, by humankind, to kill. Killing is not an unfortunate side-effect of guns. Whatever is targeted by guns is intended not to be able to fight back after the round is delivered.
Here in the UK, the reaction to this killing is likely to be bewilderment mixed with shock: most would not dream of arming children, but then, it’s a different land and a different culture. In the USA, there are vehement participants on both sides of the debate. But in Cumberland County, KY, other freedoms have their limits: this is a prohibition county. The sale of alcoholic drinks is prohibited.
After all, you wouldn’t want the stuff to fall into the hands of children, would you?