Yesterday afternoon, the "NRA Women" Twitter account sent out a simple and yet ghoulish message to its followers. With an embedded link to an article on their website, it reminded its adherents of "7 ways children can have fun at the shooting range."
No matter that merely two days earlier, at the Bullets & Burgers Gun Range 50 miles outside of Las Vegas in Arizona, a 9-year old girl had been handed an Uzi, lost control while firing it in fully automatic mode, and accidentally shot the instructor standing next to her in the head (he later died after being airlifted to hospital).
Hell, the gun range didn't even shut down. Because this is gun country; where the bodies are moved to the side and we just keep on shooting.
Needles to say, no other high-income country behaves like this with deadly weapons. The United States itself would never do so with any other item that caused so much murder and mayhem.
Just last week a mom in Connecticut was charged with 10 counts of risk of injury to a minor for throwing a party for her 15-year old daughter and her friends where a condom was handed out and booze was readily available. Meanwhile, the parents of the 9-year old at Bullets & Burgers are free as birds. Too bad for the Connecticut party mom that she didn’t have the good sense to hand out shotguns instead.
The horrific shooting accident is not even the first incident of its kind. In 2008, an 8-year old boy shot himself in the head while also attempting to fire an Uzi at a target. This time the watching gun instructor escaped injury.
Worse than these newsworthy accidents, is what we allow to happen every day in this country.
Everytown for Gun Safety released a report in June that traced Centers for Disease Control statistics from 2007 to 2011, which found that an average of 62 children under 15 were shot and killed each year. That's more than one child a week. Around two thirds of these accidental deaths happened in the home or vehicle of the family, with mostly unsecured guns. Over two thirds of those deaths could have been prevented if the guns had been been stored safely.
Tell me, would we allow this to happen with any other consumer product? If a toy chokes a few children it is (rightly) pulled from the market. This has occurred with bean bag chairs, children's sweaters, and the Coco The Monkey Teething Toy. My seven-year-old son still can't go on all the roller coasters he wants, because he is a few inches too short. But no worry! Once he hits eight, we can head on over to Bullets & Burgers, and who knows, maybe they'll let him strap on a bazooka.
Anyone who can't see how corrupted our polices are by the arms-dealer front group known as the NRA isn't looking very hard. Guns are the only consumer product not allowed to be regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission—meaning only the manufacturers profiting from the sales can recall a gun, even if it is exploding in your face. Our bought-off legislators in Washington, mostly Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats, gave the gun industry blanket immunity in 2004 from wrongful death lawsuits--something no other industry enjoys. What this means in reality, is that they can act with all the negligence their greed-filled hearts can muster, and nobody can do a thing.
In May of 2013, a 5-year old boy accidentally shot and killed his 2-year old sister in a Kentucky town, with a Crickett rifle that is made and marketed for kids. You read that right, this gun is specifically made and marketed to kids. Under the slogan "My First Rifle" you can buy one from Keystone Sporting Arms in hot pink, should that be the preference of your mature, online-window shopping 5-year old.
We allow this. In a modern democracy. For the same reason we don't have background checks to stop murderers and terrorists from buying guns, or require people to report a lost or stolen gun, or stop people from buying a sniper rifle that can shoot someone from 10 football fields away.
We have allowed our culture to be manhandled by people who have purchased and repackaged our history. They don't want you to know that as recently as the 1970s concealed carry in public was rare, and we took a similar stance on deadly weapons as many other similar countries. But then the NRA was taken over by a gun nut who had actually shot a kid dead in cold blood when he was younger. He brought with him the radicalized, right-wing mentality of a child, one that devalues human life and proclaims, as he did, that some dead people here, there, and everywhere is just "the price we pay for freedom."
Interestingly, Canada, Japan, England, Australia and the Netherlands somehow remain free without paying this price.
Since then, we have allowed this child-like mentality to govern the issue, so it is no surprise that children would have access to guns.
Hopefully this incident, like all the massacres we could have prevented, will wake people up and they'll join a growing movement to turn back this madness. Bill Gates signed on the other day.
If not, we'll continue to live in what George Carlin described as a "strange culture", where we regulate toy guns better than, in his words, "the fucking real ones!" That in itself would be another tragedy.