I have no memory of the most traumatic event I ever experienced during a family vacation. As the tale is told, my grandmother was walking with me along the boardwalk in Atlantic City one hot summer day, and I had made the mistake of tossing some popcorn to the seagulls. This gang of seagulls, no doubt wearing colors and flashing each other signs, apparently decided that they could roll my older-than-4-but-younger-than-7 year old ass and have all the popcorn, rather than the handfuls I was happily throwing. They were not wrong. After a brief tussle, the seagulls had a feast of popcorn, and my grandmother had a crying child to deal with. From what I hear, she had me laughing and smiling within minutes, and the great seagull caper was behind us. Since I have no memory of the incident, I assume it is possible that the seagulls really carried me off to their nest and did unspeakable acts normally reserved for Catholic priests and altar boys, and that repressed time bomb of a memory is the true reason that I turned to the needle as I desperately attempted to drown the thought of seagull abuse in a flood of heroin. I suppose it is at least as likely as a family of Sasquatches (Sasquatchi) making their home in my back yard., and slightly more likely than the Loch Ness Monster calling the drained above ground pool in said yard home. Perhaps you have similar vacation stories; a jellyfish sting, a camping trip where it never stopped raining, the car breaking down on the way to Disney (which also happened to me on a different trip). At the time to a child, it may have seemed the end of the world, yet now the memory may draw a faint smile, if our brain decided to remember it at all.
I’m sure you know where I am going with this. For one nine year old girl, her traumatic family vacation memory isn’t likely ever to bring a faint smile to her lips, and at nine, she is unfortunately very likely to never forget it. Having seagulls steal your popcorn is quite a bit different than shooting someone in the face with an uzi, after all.
I am going to keep this brief, since I am sure you have heard at least 50 different voices on this topic by now. So I’ll just say this: As a resident of south central Pennsylvania, I am very aware of the strange cultural fascination many Americans have with firearms. As I’ve said in many previous posts, the first day of deer season is a school holiday here. While I myself have never hunted, most of my peers in school were marching off into the woods with a family member, at extremely young ages, to hold a rifle and freeze until the chance to kill something reared its head. The only reason I was spared this experience was the failing health of my father; by the time I reached “hunting age,” (which I seem to remember as 5th grade or so, though I could very well be wrong*) his legs were already bad enough to keep him from hunting. An incredible amount of my friends and peers in junior and senior high owned their own hunting rifles. ** Several of my close friends bought handguns when they turned 21. When they took me shooting, I understood the attraction. After my first time, I wanted a gun of my own. As I have also said in a few previous posts, I am not a progressive who supports outlawing firearms. So when I make my next comment, please no strawmanning it.
What kind of a fucking idiot thinks it is a good idea to let a 9 year old shoot an automatic weapon?
I am not happy that this incident cost a man his life, but Charles Vacca gets a Darwin Award just the same. He took a job that involves handing hard to control, fully automatic weapons to children as young as 8. I have to believe most rational people see the potential for disaster in that situation.
The girl’s parents have requested privacy, stating that the family is “devastated.” Ya think? Their poor decision making ability placed a fully automatic weapon into the hands of their nine year old daughter and cost a man his life. While being “devastated,” I hope they are also thankful that their daughter is still alive. This, sadly, isn’t the first time something like this happened:
The boy, Christopher K. Bizilj of Ashford, Conn., accidentally shot himself in the head while taking his turn with a 9-millimeter Micro Uzi on Oct. 26 in Westfield, Mass. He was accompanied by his father, an emergency room doctor, who, the authorities say, had chosen the Uzi for him to fire.
As for their poor daughter, I hope that she can understand that this is in no way her fault. However, even with her innocence, shooting someone in the face and killing them is probably going to lead to long term therapy. After the shooting, before the family realized what had happened, she made a comment that all the adults should have already realized:
The 9-year-old girl who accidentally shot and killed a firing range instructor with an Uzi last week told her mother immediately afterward that the gun was too powerful for her and that it had hurt her shoulder, according to a Mohave County Sheriff’s Office report released Tuesday.
Really? I’ve shot several types of firearms, and I’m willing to bet it would be too powerful for me. What a blinding flash of the obvious.*** This just blows my mind (horrid pun really not intended). We make kids wait until they are 16 to get behind the wheel of a car, and we make them pass a driving test and license them as well, yet at 8 they can fire automatic weapons. Zero is the amount of sense this makes to me.
Worst “How I spent my summer vacation” essay ever.****
* I shouldn’t have looked, because I knew the answer would disturb me. Bolding mine as always.
Youth ages 11 and under may purchase a Mentored Youth Hunting Permit to pursue five different species in Pennsylvania – squirrel, groundhog, antlered and antlerless deer, fall and spring turkey and coyote. Youth must be accompanied by a licensed mentor who is 21 years of age or older.
** One of them used their favorite rifle to remove their own head, when they experienced the first (and in this case, last) break up of their young romantic life. While on the phone with the girl.
*** Obvious for the adults. I am not slamming the child here in anyway.
**** Joke shamelessly stolen from the current episode of Cognitive Dissonance.