In fact, it’s getting more difficult to sit through the national news on television or read about world news due to the sheer amount of savagery, bloodshed and stupidity that is occurring around us.
Therefore, I am choosing to focus on a stupid and a very sad event that occurred in Arizona last week. I am referring to an accident that resulted in a totally avoidable and senseless death of a shooting instructor. The shooter was a nine-year-old girl who was on holidays with her parents.
The whole tragedy is wrong for several reasons which I will explain bearing in mind that “it is not guns that kill people, it is people that kill people.”
Firstly, under the correct circumstances it is perfectly acceptable for a nine-year-old child (boy or girl) to learn to shoot a firearm. I was five years old when a woman – yes a woman who was as tough as most men – taught me how to shoot a .22-calibre rifle on a trapline. It was darn cold and hard to steady the rifle on the old snowmobile. The target was a bird. I missed on my first two shots, but tickled its tail feather with the next and then it flew off. I am sure I was more afraid than the bird. It should be noted that the small survival rifle that was used had bolt-action and could fire only one shot at a time.
In contrast, the firearm the young girl was shooting in Arizona was an automatic. It was an Uzi submachine gun that was designed strictly for military purposes, particularly close-quarter combat. It is a compact, short-barreled man killer, and unfortunately it fulfilled its purpose that day in the hands of a child. The experience was undoubtedly very traumatic for the girl who was on holidays from New York. I cannot imagine how terribly scarred she is from the event.
I don’t mean to be critical, but there was more at play in this tragedy than a rookie shooter (a child) who was given a firearm that was grossly inappropriate for her age and strength. Video of the event shows the shooting coach standing beside the girl as he gives her instruction on how to stand, aim and fire a loaded weapon. Any 39-year-old instructor who has experience should know that the safest place when firing a gun is behind the shooter.
The coach has the girl take a single shot and then set the Uzi on automatic. Newton’s third law came into play when the trigger was squeezed and the gun kicked back and out of her front hand. It twisted sideways toward the instructor’s head as it was firing. A shriek can be heard from the girl and that’s when the video ends. The shooting coach was airlifted to hospital where he died from his injuries. The nine-year-old will live on with that event seared in her mind.
The shooting range is apparently fully licensed, has a good track record and has never had such an incident before. However, the incident begs the question – what type of state allows a child to fire an automatic weapon, even if a qualified shooting coach or parent is supervising? I hope the girl’s parents were suffering from heat stroke or holiday exhaustion because there is something inherently wrong when a child is allowed to operate a submachine gun – an instrument of death that only military personnel should possess. It is wrong that the shooting range administration, instructor and parents all allowed a skinny nine-year-old girl to control and fire a machine gun. What were they thinking? Obviously they were not thinking clearly or the circumstances that turned a holiday adventure into an accidental killing would not have occurred. To my amazement, there are a lot of American gun owners who are vigorously arguing against social media comments that better gun control is required. I don’t like some of the stiff laws governing firearms in Canada, but guns without some form of control equates to a license to kill. Sadly this incident shows that firearm accidents occur at the best of times. Furthermore, the common-sense use of firearms which most rural children learn at an early age is not something that can be taken for granted, neither is the concept that an adult or parent knows best.
Ironically, the place in Arizona where the shooting occurred is named Last Stop and it truly was the last stop for Charles Vacca, the shooting instructor. It seems to me that far too many U.S. citizens have twisted their right to bear arms so that it includes any type of firearm – firearms that neither they nor their children should possess or fire. They place their misguided rights above the safety of children, neighbourhoods and cities which is slowly jeopardizing the overall safety of their country as concerns about personal safety turn into fear, paranoia and eventually hysteria. I think they definitely need to reword the terminology on their currency so it states, “In Guns we trust.”