Guns and the high price of bad judgment

A completely avoidable accident. But one man is dead, one little girl has suffered a trauma she’ll never forget, and two parents will live with the guilt of having allowed it to happen. They might even have encouraged their daughter to “try it, just for fun.” Why would you ever put an automatic weapon in the hands of a child? There’s no reason good enough. None.

38 thoughts on “Guns and the high price of bad judgment

  1. Perhaps the parents should be charged with murder; even second degree murder. They should certainly be charged with child neglect and the child should be removed from their custody.

    There is no excuse and no good reason why these people should be allowed to continue with this childs upbringing. They are completely irresponsible and incompetent.

    Time, too, that Hollywood and the TV producers in the US stopped glamorizing guns, not one US TV program involving any law inforcement goes the 40 minutes or so without the heroes and heroines running around with a gun in their hands (always two handson the gun).

    How can the English/British TV and film producers turn out top class programs time and again and never a gun in sight. Occassionally and only occassionally you may get a program where a SWAT team “goes in”, but never just your average detective or cop!

    Perhaps too, I might run this “Okay, now it’s your turn…” into a blog on my site. 😉

    1. Good advice, Lord Bear. I particularly like the thought that the parents should be charged with an offense. I’m not so sure that the entertainment media’s effect is what you state. That’s been going on for a very long time, since the Saturday matinee westerns of my youth. Same entertainment as today, lots less gun violence.

      1. Agreed that we used to enjoy the old shoot out at the OK Corral years ago but there is no way it was glamorized, we never saw the heroines totting guns and shooting the baddies it was just the hero doing the shooting and the heroines looking all starry eyed, it was just good fun and I think we realized that.

        But I think that now the studios have gone way over the top and it’s got out of hand, these days a cop will not knock on a door unless he’s got back up and a Glock in his hands with I don’t know how many rounds in the magazine; whereas in the oldies the hero would pull out his six shooter and rid us of the baddies only with provocation.

        Now the goodguys have a gun as an extention of their arm, consequently the baddies have guns dangling from their mitts too.

        It’s quite sickening; I believe in real life the chances of a police officer actually having to pull his weapon out throughout his/her career is actually very remote, some only withdrawing them on the gun range for practice purposes.

        So why do the TV/Movie producers directors encourage the idea that the law inforcement people are gun happy shooters?

        As I said in my earlier reply to PT, I much prefer the English/British programs which work with a damned fine script. That’s class!

      2. Thank goodness for BBC and British programing – show with actual scripts, wit, character development.
        It’s really sad these days with TV programing here: Many nights you have a choice of: vampires, violent “horror” shows/movies, murder mystery docudrama dragged out 45 min longer than it needs to be, constant Law and Order of CSI (neither are really how it works)…or stupid reality shows. Oh, forgot the constant Christmas shows year round, and that “Groundhog Day” movie that plays constantly…which is a bit ironic?

    2. I’d love to see the parents charged with something, but I’ve no doubt the law protects their right to make decisions for their minor child and the gun range’s right to instruct minors. Stupidity, unfortunately, is not illegal.

      Now, now, Beari, you can’t condemn all those law enforcement TV shows. After all, they are demonstrating the approved two-handed grip for pistols.

  2. I feel so sorry for that little girl, who just might need a lifetime of therapy after this. I have no problem with teaching kids gun safety (there was a gun safety program when I was in 4-H), and I think that’s a good idea. However, an automatic weapon in the hands of a child is a bad idea by any stretch of the imagination.

    1. Oh I’m absolutely heartbroken for the little girl. There’s no forgetting what happened or unseeing what she saw. Shame, shame, shame on her parents who were so derelict in their responsibility.

  3. Has nobody concerned EVER shot a gun on full auto? They’re famous for kicking up and to the side. An adult can have trouble holding the gun level. You’d think the instructor at the very least would know this.

    1. I’ve already seen another instructor say that in this case the girl’s instructor erred by not keeping his hand on top of the gun as he did with the first shot. (No mention of the parents erring in allowing it in the first place.) Sadly, the lesson in the gun community seems to be “keep an adult hand on the gun” rather than the equally obvious “keep the kids’ hands off the gun.”

      I saw a woman being interviewed at a gun range, explaining proudly how all the little girls behind her were learning gun safety, etc., and besides, the kids weren’t learning self-defense or “how to clear a room.” They were learning “sport shooting.” Seems to me you can learn to hit a stationary target with a BB gun or a maybe a .22. You don’t need high powered rifles or Uzis for that.

      And I don’t care how much gun safety you teach a 9 year old. That child is still 9 years old, with a 9-year-old’s judgment, a 9-year-old’s curiosity, and a 9-year-old’s impulse control. Don’t talk to me about putting powerful weapons in the hands of children.

      1. Ah, but apparently it’s big money around Las Vegas (and probably elsewhere). Tourists can go to these ranges and fire all kinds of big, nasty, powerful weapons that they’d never have access to otherwise. It’s kicks! It’s fun! And it’s lucrative for the guys running the ranges. (Not to mention furthering the objectives of the NRA and gun community.)

      2. Even the big name anti-gun guys drool and thrill at shooting if they get the opportunity. Happens here. – They go out and shoot with big smiles…then go comb their head and rail about it. Hypocritical?
        Like many, I feel guns are not a summer fun recreation experience – especially for kids.
        Go let them drive bull dozers in the desert or something

      3. Hypocritical? Nah, politics. Personally I think if you want to shoot big guns, automatic weapons, etc., you can join the army.

        Suddenly it occurs to me: Do you think the government’s “militarization” of our police departments has contributed to the idea that a gun culture is “cool,” acceptable, and desirable?

        People blame violent video games for breeding violence and mass murderers … so they take their kids to the gun range instead to learn that guns are fun, recreational, and parent-approved. What’s wrong with this picture?

      4. Judging from the current watered down qualifications for local county/city law enforcement…these people have no business carrying anything…these non college grads seem to have fewer logic and reasoning skills, less common sense and more bravado and ego issues. Very dangerous to give them the big toys 9That aren’t appropriate anyway.
        Talking to kids about anything and actually teaching them solid values and codes of conduct could trump all the hours of video games/practice shooting for fun…but that would take some parent involvement…and adults can’t brag to friends about it. Kids aren’t accessories, models for YouTube videos, or reinforcements for parents’ egos.
        Wrong picture – totally

    2. Oh, and another lesson learned by the operators of the range where this tragedy occurred — they’ve now raised their age requirement to 12.

      Yep, that’ll take care of the problem …

  4. This was totally nuts. 1. She’s a little kid. 2.Parents – if you must feed your ego by making videos that you hope to go viral and make you important, please do it with yourself and don’t involve your small children in harmful situations (CPS? – this is as bad as no seat belt, playing in traffic, letting kid dance on the roof, or getting drunk and leaving swords, knives, and dangerous stuff laying around where kids can get them….) 3. Instructor and range operator/owner: Despite they are paying customers, use common sense. Adults have difficulty with this weapon – and you are the expert with training and should say no…even for a video. I don’t care if the law says a 6 yr old can shoot on a range – even the gun people would say that means using an appropriate gun – like a small BB gun – not this.
    2 lives destroyed. This poor child.
    Never ever should have happened.
    The world gone totally nuts

    1. Ah, but it’s “gun people” who open these ranges and make money letting people of all ages come “play” with all those big military grade weapons. This instructor, probably like many others, thought it was perfectly okay to put an Uzi into the hands of a child because he was a “trained instructor” and was “properly supervising” the little girl. He paid dearly for his arrogance and greed.

      1. Actually here there’s a lot of “new” swaggering businessmen out to make a buck on the trend/hysteria that society is so violent and dangerous.
        Maybe in that state where this incident occurred, it’s a lucrative tourist event…after all what’s done on vacation, stays on vacation.
        Misleading attitude about guns. Certainly shouldn’t be encouraging kids this way…they go home and think they have experience/ want to show off if they encounter a gun with tragic results
        The old timers would prefer the ones who didn’t grow up with guns or are only recent gun owners because it’s trendy or they are scared – many wish they would go elsewhere..often they are the ones who get hurt. And they don’t listen or observe basic gun sense/responsibility/manners.
        It really bothers me there are apparently lots of kids waving guns in videos because someone thinks it makes them look cool – or because adults are trying to get praise with a viral video
        “Lost” clueless people wanting “bad ass” accessories or outfits to wear to booster their image/ego/fill a void in their lives
        Anything for a buck world – no matter the cost.
        This time it was a big one. Tragic

  5. I’m actually starting to wonder now about ‘the little girl’; I’m worried now that she will not be traumatised by what she did. Is there not a distinct possibility that she will start to lap up all the attention and the pampering that she will surely get? Will not her friends think that she is “real cool”? Don’t tell me that’s impossible; a child of 9’s conception of death is not as acute as an adults. The finality of death has as yet to become apparent.

    And what when this attention starts to die down and the friends become blaisé and she ceases to become the centre of attention? What will happen then?

    Will she be completely adjusted or will she perhaps feel that by having a gun, shooting someone she will gain her position again, which I suppose is okay so long as she shoots her parents after all they’re the ones who encouraged her in the first place.

    This is a very sad/disgusting state of affairs and the surest way of helping this child I believe is to charge and punish the parents and the shooting range owners, let her see that what they did was wrong, neglegent, irresponsible and such behaviour cannot and will not be tolerated or accepted.

    You wont get rid of your guns so you need to bring in tough new laws that will stop these money hungry parasites from exploiting the stupid!

    1. There is, of course, no way of knowing exactly how a child will react to a situation. I think most of us are just imagining how we or the kids we know would probably react.

      1. Yes but then we are assuming that all parents are as sensible as we appear to be when it comes to guns. Obviously this childs parents are without that sense and appear to be lacking in any sense whatsoever.

        They’re probably planning a book and hoping for a movie to cash in on their misfortune and about to instruct their solicitor to sue the owners of the shooting range for several millions of dollars on behalf of their child who is now so traumatically affected that she needs constant care and attention from a professional nurse and it was the firing ranges fault for permitting their child to have a go with the weapons which they obviously did knowing the risks by changing the policy immediately allowing only intelligent adults over the age of 12 to handle these lethal weapons.

        I shall now take a deep breath and try and calm down

  6. At that age I was cutting out guns from plywood with a hobby saw. Cut out swords too (Saracen swords). Also making slingshots, bows and arrows, and I carried a pocket knife (always had a knife on me, and still do). I also knew not to touch a gun (people hunted where I lived, and they did not have gun safes).

    Interesting how easy it is to judge a whole group of people based on one incident. I wonder what the current political and social situation would be if everyone did that about every issue . . . oh, yeah . . . nevermind.

    1. I was given my dad’s .22 Marlin lever action when I was 12. I kept it and the ammo in my room. Trouble is, we lived right in the middle of Oklahoma City and there was no place to shoot unless my dad found time to take me out to the country somewhere. Which was very rare. I’d actually wanted a BB gun so I could shoot in the backyard. Left it behind when I went off to college. Would have made the CU rifle team but I had a scheduling conflict. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of target shooting. Still, I think we need stricter gun laws and, based on the above case, a lot more common sense (in lieu of which, we need laws).

      1. You are saying to legislate something based on one incident without knowing any of the data relating to the safe use of guns in similar situations.

        You speak of common sense, and that in lieu of it we need laws . . . perhaps someone can, but I can’t think of any law that has eliminated the use for common sense. I can, however, point to laws that seem to fly in the face of common sense.

        As for stricter gun laws, which laws do you think are not strict enough? Local? State? Federal?

        Any specific law you have in mind? I mean, it’s already illegal to misuse a gun, just like it is illegal to drive drunk, allow access to alcohol to minors, sell drugs to adults and minors, sell cigarettes to minors . . . I could go on.

        To be clear, I am for controlling all things that are potentially lethal, within reason. We accept a certain amount of fatalities with everything we do, from eating meat to drinking alcohol to driving cars to using knives to having baseball bats to dangerous chemicals, etc.

        There are lots of good numbers available from our government, like, for instance:

        You can even go to the FBI unified crime stats and get the breakdown for all them homicides. Guess what? We’re not addressing those demographics.

        But look at the total. We can’t legislate the lack of common sense relating to unintentional poisoning, traffic fatalities, falls, and suicides to the tune of 120,000 people a year, but yet we will be successfully stop 11,068 intentional homicides . . . and one idiot at the range.

        I don’t share the same confidence in “new laws”.

      2. No, I’m not advocating a new law just because of this one incident. But there’s been more than one like this, and there are numerous businesses like this where the same thing could happen, and for the same reasons. Children have no business handling automatic weapons. And they are too young to understand they are being exploited by businesses that allow it and by their parents who don’t have sense enough to intervene. Hence, a law is needed because (a) kids shouldn’t be handling such weapons and (b) some parents don’t have enough common sense to prevent it.

        I threw out a bunch of off-the-cuff, unresearched ideas for stricter laws in a previous post. Some were poorly worded or otherwise flawed and essentially all of them were immediately challenged by gun advocates. Lengthy discussions ensued, and your points, along with many others, were covered.

      3. I slogged through half of it before calling it a lost cause.

        Not to get confrontational, but you out of hand dismissed what are some of my arguments, and you did so for no reason than I could see other than you did not agree with them. No data, no consideration for the other person, no allowing the possibility that circumstances differ from person to person.

        But none of that matters.

        Here’s what does matter. Someone telling me I can’t carry a gun (I do) has to explain to me what basis they have for making that decision for me. I’m vetted by the El Paso county Sheriff, the CBI, and the FBI, have to have classes to demonstrate proficiency in its use and awareness of safety concerns, and have to have pass a test to confirm such, as well as understanding the legal ramifications of deadly force and the few times it is justified.

        Saying someone else may abuse the right does not explain it. If that is claimed as a valid argument, I have a long list of what people should not have access to based on other people abusing the given privilege (alcohol and driving being the major two, but not the only ones; I’d also enact strict requirements as to who can and cannot have kids).

        Saying I have no need to carry a gun speaks of ignorance and elitism, but again, I then have my own opinion about people’s needs, and how they negatively impact society and the world in general, and would demand equal import in their consideration.

        One answer in particular (you said you laughed) spoke to the divide between our positions, and to evidence of just how people view gunowners.

        You laughed when the guy pointed out just how much carrying a gun impacts his behavior. That points to a lack of understanding of the responsibility of carrying a gun, and the fact the majority who choose to do so take the matter very seriously. I can tell you for a fact that it does impact my behavior.

        I don’t get mad or respond to jerks, I don’t speed, I don’t go anywhere where there is alcohol being consumed (I don’t drink), I don’t go out at night unless absolutely necessary, and I don’t do crowds (especially if, again, there is alcohol available). There other ways I’ve modified my behavior to eliminate even remote possibilities of confrontation.

        Now, I will suggest everyone, armed or unarmed, should be doing those things, but I can’t control what others do.

        The point is not that the gun makes me do those things. The point is that the mindset that would have me carry a gun also makes me more aware of my own behavior and risks it may poses. But here’s the kicker . . . it’s the decision to carry the gun, to take responsibility for one’s safety, to recognize things are not always under one’s control, that promotes that kind of thinking.

        I have a good friend (one, and exactly one) who recently asked me a strange question. He asked me if I never had to use my gun to either defend myself or others, would I on my deathbed regret never having had the opportunity to do so. A tiny spark of regret at not having exercised the option of violence to thwart an evil deed.

        It really took me aback . . . it did so because it points to such a gulf of misunderstanding as to why someone would carry a gun as to be insurmountable. I know that is the case because he did not accept my one word answer “No”.

        My friend who knows me pretty well, thinks my carrying is an act of machismo, the would be protector complex, the wannabe hero mentality placing me at risk for possible prosecution and jail time should a jury of probably biased individuals decide I did not act in a responsible manner.

        What hope do I have of explaining to you, or anyone like you, why I carry a gun? I wrote a lot about it on my blog, and it’s still like talking to a wall. And that is what I find most annoying.

        To people who don’t own guns, casually asking for this or that regulation, this or that law aimed at responsible and law abiding people costs nothing. The government will gladly play to their lack of understanding.

        But to the people who are affected, me, it is a big deal. It is an actual loss that people making those requests don’t even try to understand.

        Think about how you would react if something you deem necessary to your life would be casually dismissed by people who have no clue as to why anyone would ever need it. How would that make you feel? What would be your opinion of those people (who probably will insist they are doing it for your own good)?

      4. If you read through even half that discussion, I’m sure you read farther than anyone else has.

        And frankly I can’t think of anything to add to that.

      5. Actually, I read through all of it.

        You should read it again, deliberately and concentrating on what is being written. What struck me was how often you changed the focus whenever Eric responded to your statements. It’s your blog, your rules, but at times it seemed as if you did not even read Eric’s replies.

        And often you did what many debaters do to me (be it politics, guns, religion, or what have you) . . . they ignore the sum total of what I just wrote in response to their comments, and shift focus on something new.

        I think Eric was articulate and composed and wrote to the very points you had brought up. And he wrote a lot. Why, it was almost like my responses when I assume the other person is actually going to consider what I say.

        Like I said, it’s worth another read (both his writing and your responses). I even printed it out for reference (PDF), like I did for this post.

        Other than that, yes . . . not much to add to it. Thank you for your patience with me.

      6. Interesting. Because I felt Eric was doing the same thing you say I was doing — he changed the focus, ignored what I just said, and went on to make the next point he wanted to make. I think we were like politicians, changing the focus from the point at hand to the point we wanted to make, like you said. I wrote a lot too, hoping he would seriously consider what i had to say. I think we both did that, and ultimately neither of us was convinced to change our thinking, although I did learn a great deal from him and gained a much better understanding of his position.

        I’m sure if I reread it all, I would want to restate or rephrase a lot of my remarks. I’m also sure I would experience again all the frustration and impatience I felt (and I’m sure he felt as well), and I’m not eager to do that again. I can’t edit or add to the conversation; it’s published and Eric is gone. But maybe someday I’ll use it as the basis for another post and give myself a chance to say it better.

  7. NOTEA follow-up to this story published today said: “Deputies were instructed to retrieve copies of the release waivers signed by the family, but were told by employees that the waivers had blown away after the incident.” Yes, I’m sure it’s very windy out there in the Arizona desert …

... and that's my two cents