Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"What Were You Thinking?"

Normally, when horrible things happen to children because their parents made a mistake, my empathy for the parents can overwhelm me for days. Left your child in a hot car all day? - well, honestly, it could happen to anyone, meaning, OH MY GOD IT COULD HAPPEN TO ME. Those parents have to feel so awful, and their lives are changed forever and it's because of a mistake they made. "What were you thinking?" is something that would never come out of my mouth.

Yesterday though, I read this article about an 8 year old boy, whose father (a doctor) took him to a gun show that had a firing range, and with an instructor standing there, the boy held an uzi, aimed at a pumpkin and it recoiled so strongly (as Uzi's will do), and fatally shot the child in the head.

Hunting, somehow I get it. I don't agree with it, but I understand the tradition of "menfolk". And while I will never have a firearm in my home while I have children, and JH will NEVER be allowed to go into a home that has guns, I don't want to take away anyone else's right to own them.

But automatic weapons? They are not for sport. They should be outlawed. There is no reason for them other than to kill people. You don't hunt with an Uzi. Any rational sporting male will tell you this.

And so I can't get this thought to go away, no matter how much sympathy I feel for his parents:

"What were you thinking?"


Lisa L said...

A guy I work with is ex-military. Special Forces and all that. He was astounded that the parent and the instructer had allowed a child of that age to handle a gun of that nature. My friend told me that even he.... (a huge,guy that I nick name behind his broad back, 'Muscles') has trouble firing an Ouzi. He said unles you have a super, super strong hold on them, they "fly all over the place when you shoot them." Yes. What were they thinking? That story floored me.

Donna said...

Why would they have an event like that where ANYBODY (let alone a child) could fire an Uzi??? What if some psycho who couldn't pass a background check walked up, got the gun and let loose on the crowd? Sheesh. And then again, why would a parent ever believe that some moron would hand a gun to a kid if there was the slightest chance that kid could injure himself??

I was totally anti-gun before my DH started hunting again. Now I know they are not going away and my focus is on safety. I did say no to a handgun when he suggested one. That's just asking for extra trouble.

So far my kids understand that they do not EVER touch a shotgun without dad. My older son is 9 and is learning to handle a youth shotgun and shoot clay pigeons. My husband is a local co-president of Pheasants Forever, and one of their primary activities is to teach youth to hunt safely. My son went with him to a target shoot event and got to use a gun. My son went with him to a youth pheasant hunt, and at our mutual agreement, was allowed to walk with the group, but not carry a gun. He will be allowed to turkey hunt this year from a stationary blind (not walking with the gun).

I admit, I worried a lot the day they went to the pheasant hunt--I did not grow up in a hunting family, so it scares me as a mommy. But I don't worry at home because I know that my husband stores the ammo separately from the guns and never lets a loaded gun in the truck, much less the house.

Did I freak a little more when he took the 6-year-old along this weekend to the shooting course (just to watch and push the button to launch the targets)? Uh huh. But I also trust that dad will put the fear of the deity of your choice into them about mishandling weapons. I am actually more comfortable with MY kids and guns than I would be with having a child over who had not been taught to respect guns. My kids (I hope) understand now that they are not toys and will catch holy hell if they ever pick one up inappropriately (read AT ALL in the house).

I'm still a little scared of my kids using them (and the younger one won't see more than an air rifle for at least three more years). My biggest fear is that the natural clumsiness and ADD of childhood will create a greater risk. But I also have to trust that my husband will not allow them to endanger themselves or others. And he will catch hell from me if I ever see a gun left out of the safe.

English Garden said...

Wow, can you even imagine how the dad is going to feel everyday for the rest of his life, I'm sure each day will begin and end with 'what was I thinking', not to mention the mom. Sometimes I truly wish we could have the chance to push an undo button in life.

Anonymous said...

I lost some of that empathy working as an elementary school counselor last year (at a school with many *issues*). I totally get what you're saying about being empathetic to the parents who forgot the kid was in the car, didn't have the kid buckled properly, took their eyes off the kid in the water, etc, etc. I also tend to think "oh good God, the self-torture of living with that for the rest of their lives..."

And then I heard horror stories last year that made me cry on the way home. And I have to admit that I lost some of that. Not all of it...but some of it. Some parenting decisions? Not a lot of empathy.

I'm rabidly anti-gun, same as you.

Devan said...

Oh, I am shocked! I have a-soon-to-be 5 year old boy who is still learning to say his "R's" - should I let him shoot a gun of that magnitude in 3 years? It is 'sickening' that it should even be able to happen. I have a grandfather who hunts regularly and, while I wish that my son could obtain that respect for the wild from his great-grandfather, I know that at this time and even at THAT age, it is not possible. I don't agree with hunting for sport but, as my great-grandfather has always hunted for game-only, I would like to see his knowledge and stories passed on in some way. I feel sad that something may be lost among the generations, but would NEVER EVER let my child learn from someone even deemed too 'elderly' in their sport - be that three years from now, NO WAY! EVEN WITH A SHOTGUN, MUCH LESS ANYTHING ELSE!!! No guns for my kiddos!

bernthis said...

Can the parents be arrested for child abuse? Please say yes. Sometimes I have to say that being that stupid has to be against the law. No?

suttonhoo said...

throwing this one on the pile of rage I've been cooking on ever since that knucklehead stopped in the middle of the tollway with a semi bearing down on her and threw all six of our vehicles into a pile of metal -- it strikes me as a deeply stupid lack of empathy and utter selfishness -- when one human being is entirely unable to assess the risk of harm they're inflicting on others by their actions.

and that he did this to his own child? that man may never sleep well again. what a horrible hell to live in.