By now virtually everyone not living under a rock or on Mars has heard the story: 5- year old Kristian Sparks of Cumberland County, Kentucky was given of a gift of a "Crickett" - the cutesy name for a .22 caliber rifle sold specifically for young 'uns in the southern backwood, hunting districts. It's manufactured by the Milton, Penn. based Keystone Sporting Arms - which also features a "Kids corner" on its website.
Anyway, a bullet was left in the rifle - unknown to the family- and the mom "heard Kristian playing with the rifle on the porch" when she subsequently "heard the gun go off" (Denver Post, p. 17A, yesterday 'Toddler Shot by 5-Year Old Brother'). When the mom ran to see what had happened, little Kristian had killed his two-year old sister Caroline with a shot to the chest.
Can anyone say fucked up? I mean, let's get real! How fucked up is it to be selling a lethal rifle (never mind the caliber) to a FIVE year old? And then entrusting it to the kid (who's not even reached the age of reason) to PLAY with? And by a company that puts it under the name "Crickett"? Jeezus fucking Christ has this country gone totally stark raving nuts?
Now, I am sure you will hear some Kentuckians yapping along the lines of "This h'yar is Kentucky! All the families have guns!". Yeah, sure, but for five year olds? To PLAY with?
Sure, I had a gun too when I was five, a CAP pistol! You put these litle red tagged papers with tiny amounts of explosive in them and fired. Made lots of noise, but if you fired at a brother or sister neither got killed! All that happened was lots of noise!
This, btw, is the only gun a 5-year old tot ought to be playing with. Then when he's 10 you might get him a 0.177 cal. air rifle to shoot BBs. If he showed he could handle that responsibly, then by age 15 or 16 he got his first .22.
Make no mistake here, the caliber doesn't matter. A .22 is as lethal as a Browning automatic, or snub-nosed .38 or even a Glock - if loaded and fired at close proximity toward a person's vulnerable organs. If loaded with hollow points, you have a genuinely lethal weapon that can do significant harm and even kill from a distance. It is not a fucking toy and no parent with any IQ over room temperature has any business giving it to a five year old, I don't care how it's marketed or what cutesy ass name the manufacturer gives it. (Evidently, they also offer another rifle too, known as 'the Chipmunk'. How about changing those names, i.e. Crickett and Chipmunk to Viper and Rabid Bat?)
The Post story went on to describe scenes of kiddies in Ky and elsewhere in the South going on family hunting expeditions and proudly sporting their kills, including of turkey and deer. The story claims this starts at an early age....but FIVE? I believe any folks even in the backwoods of Mitch McConnell's state would have to be daft to give a kid THAT kind of rifle! The most they ought to be allowed is MAYBE a BB gun.
Now, the whole Sparks family mourns and the farming community (90 miles north of Nashville, TN) "is in shock". One can imagine also how the parents feel, especially the father. A guy who seemingly believed a five year old had the level of responsibility and maturity to take care of a .22 rifle. This despite the brain studies of Jean Piaget, showing a five year old can't even reason from cause to effect. He still believes when he screams at the Sun that's what makes it move across the sky.
Meanwhile, we know at least two errors were made - as reported in the press- though I assign three. The first was leaving the rifle "in a corner of the mobile home". Uh, NO! You lock the sucker in a case, until such time Jr. and daddy are ready to go out together to use it- Jr. doesn't get to "play" with it on his own! It's not a toy!
Second, the rifle - having been left in the open- wasn't checked to see if a bullet was left in. This is the sort of cardinal error too many gun freaks and owners make- and one highlighted last night by "the Gun Guy" who appeared on Chris Hayes' "ALL In" MSNBC show. He allowed that too many gun owners were lax and irresponsible and this led directly to tragedies like the Sparks incident.
The third error, which I assign, is lack of parental oversight. The parents, having failed to secure the rifle, allowed it to be freely accessible to the kid as a "toy" - so didn't micro-manage the toddler's activities and in particular, limit them only to times when one or other parent was present - to act as the responsible party in the absence of the brain development needed by Jr.
One wonders now how little Kristian will feel about what he did to his sister when he does hit the age of reason or reaches his late teens. If we have any luck at all, his predictable regret will be directed toward becoming an anti-gun lobbyist and especially going after the companies that market lethal weapons for kiddies under cute animal names like Crickett and Chipmunk.
On another gun-related story note, kudos must go out to Gov. Jerry Brown of Cailifornia for marshalling the funds for gun seizures there. The plan received the green light Wednesday, when Gov. Brown signed legislation providing $24 million to clear the backlog of weapons known to be in the hands of about 20,000 people who acquired them legally. (They were later disqualified because of criminal convictions, restraining orders or serious mental illness.)
California is the only state in the nation to operate a database that cross-references gun owners with those who are subsequently disqualified from owning firearms. But budget cuts had prevented the state Department of Justice from keeping up with the list, which grows by 15 to 20 names every day. Now with the funds at hand, enough agents can be deployed to seize the weapons of those 20,000 renegades, who have no business owning even a BB gun.
Let's hope other states commence useful data based like California's to keep track of all those who have no business owning a BB gun, far less a Glock 9mm.