There are stories that just get under your skin. Even with all of the sickness and sadness and unbelievably stupid violence in the world right now, nothing has shaken my view that people aren’t hopelessly stupid and are capable of acting decently. I say this even while the appalling events in Ferguson are unfolding. I say this even while Dinesh D’Souza says stupid stuff like (and I paraphrase here) ‘The people who are upset about an unarmed kid being killed by the police are like terrorists.’ I say this even though people like this suspended (but for some reason not fired) cop in St. Louis says “I’m into diversity. I kill everybody, I don’t care.*” Seriously, I can read that and stay positive because it’s obvious that these two folks are idiots and outliers who can be dismissed without serious thought.
This one, though, makes me sad: A 9-year-old accidentally shoots an instructor at a shooting range with a fully-automatic weapon. There’s so much about this that I find just fundamentally wrong that I get dizzy trying to work my way through it. The range in question is apparently some sort of automatic weapon amusement park. They advertise the opportunity to fire the same weapons used in movies like Rambo and The Terminator. They have a cafe called “Bullets and Burgers.” It all feels like the work of a mind completely alien to me.
Don’t get me wrong. As a third grader, I would have LOVED to go to a place that let me shoot the same guns they used in the movies**. But, and I think this distinction is key, third graders are not noted for having the best judgement in the world. In fact, they’re notoriously bad at making decisions about things like this. That’s why this line haunts me:
“Hypothetically” a 9-year-old would be able to shoot a fully-automatic weapon, but it’s a discretionary decision, he said.
In what world is it a good idea for third graders to be shooting live ammunition from a fully automatic weapon? I don’t think I’m going all liberal-hippie on you when I say that I don’t believe that guns are toys. They’re not something to be played with. I struggle trying to understand why this is a discretionary decision.
Maybe that’s the test. If you think giving a loaded, fully-automatic Uzi to a nine-year-old is a “discretionary decision,” you’ve just disqualified yourself from making decisions about children and weapons.
Needless to say, no charges were filed and no citations were issued.
* He also said ” If you don’t want to get killed, don’t show up in front of me. I have no problems with it. God did not raise me to be a coward.” Aside from his questionable understanding of how his Christian faith looks upon killers (not favorably), don’t you kind of want to know about his childhood given that “God” raised him?
** But were there any places that had the blasters from Star Wars when I was that age? Nooooooooooo…