Don’t Bring Your Guns to Town

Not two weeks ago a father took his eight year old son to a gun show in Westfield Massachusetts. While there and with the boy’s father giving his approval a vendor handed to the boy a fully–loaded Uzi submachine gun. The boy wanted to test fire the weapon. The Uzi was too much for the little boy to handle; he lost control of the weapon while it was firing and shot himself in the head. He died.

Of course, we were all grieved by this tragic accident but am I the only one who was astounded at the facts of this case: that an eight year old boy can attend a gun show, that the weapons at gun shows are loaded, that little boys are permitted to fire weapons, and that it is legal for a gun dealer to hand a loaded Uzi to an eight year old boy?

Good God! I am more than astounded. I have no word strong enough to express my shock and outrage. Yet I read not a single editorial, column, or letter-to-the-editor in protest of this death.

Then there was the episode in Texas. A man saw two men crawling out the windows of a neighbor’s house. He called authorities and told the dispatcher he was going to kill the men; which he proceeded to do, shooting both of them in the back. A local grand jury refused to indict him for any crime.

I imagine a similar scenario on own street in Lexington. What would I do if I saw two men crawling out of the window of the house next door? Certainly I would lock my doors and call the police. But when does burglary, even if I could assume that is what was happening—after all, my own boys have climbed in and out of my house on numerous occasions—justify capital punishment? A burglar found guilty might get five to ten years—but not death.

So how is that people can grab a shotgun and gun people down?

According to the National Education Association, between 1979 and 2001 gunfire killed 90,000 children and teens in America. In one year more children and teens died from gunfire than from cancer, pneumonia, influenza, Asthma, and HIV/AIDS combined. The rate of firearm deaths among kids under age 15 is almost 12 times higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized countries combined.

Yet during the past decade the resistance to the gun culture in America has been muted; maybe suppressed is a better word. I am one citizen that supports stronger regulations on the gun industry. Like the warning of the mother to her young adult son in the Johnny Cash song, “Don’t Bring Your Guns to Town.”

The recent election may give us cause for hope. The cowboy Bush is being replaced by the urban Obama. On the range, guns are used to shoot targets and vermin, mostly; but in the cities, these weapons kill people. This difference in culture will bring a new attitude toward guns into the governing class. I can only hope.

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4 comments so far

  1. Rick on

    First off I would like to say that the boy, Christopher Bizilj, was not at a gun show, but a shooting range, and the boy’s father was supporting his son from behind when the accident happened. The boy’s father, Charles Bizilj, is a physician and medical director of the emergency department at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs, Conn..

    People do not handle loaded guns at gun shows. I’ve been to numerous guns shows, and NEVER have I seen ANYONE handling loaded guns.

  2. Jinny Vicroy on

    I can be appalled at the vendor or the law but really am appalled at the father, who is the one wiht the authority here. Let’s get back to the individual with the responsibility. Really, if you order hot coffee at McDonald’s you want it hot. There is a chance that you might spill it if you drink and drive. It was the father who is in charge of his son’s safety, he was the one who took him into a dangerous place and put him in jeopardy. Not the vendor, not the legal system. They all play a part and have some responsibility also. We cannot legislate common sense. Didn’t you just preach on the individual church congreation being able to question what authority others have over them, not to follow blindly? Just as it will be interesting to see how our president elect will do when he steps foot in the Oval Office. He can speak wonderful, kind, inspiring words now. Will be interesting to see what the ride will be for the next 4 years. “I can speak with the tongues of men and angels but if I have not love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell”. I will wait and watch. I will also hope, I truly am an optimist, and pray. That is my job as a citizen of this great country.

  3. Clay Stewart on

    Christopher Bizilj, the 8 year old boy you referred to was on a shooting range under the supervision of a range safety officer and his father. He was shooting an automatic weapon (an UZI) which is a highly restricted type of firearm and requires a Class 3 Federal Firearms license (and has since 1968) which includes extensive and ongoing evaluations in order to posses. He was not at a ‘gun show’ like the kind you see advertised locally.

    I would agree with you and I assume everyone that this was a horrible tragedy, however your implied assertion that the social norm at any local gun show or by normal firearms owners in general is to hand unsupervised children loaded automatic weapons seems at best grossely incorrect or at worst intentionally distorted by your underlying anti-gun bias.

    In the second example, the Texas man you refered to is 61 year old retired Joe Horn. He called 911 after seeing Diego Ortiz and Hernando Torres pry into his neighbor’s house with a crowbar. When police had not shown up by the time the suspects were about to leave, the 61-year-old retiree confronted the burglars with a comand to halt or face deadly force. When they continued, he shot them. Hernando Torres was a Columbian national who was in this country illegally, and is suspected in multiple aggrevated robberies targeted at Asian families. Joe Horn’s neighbors are Asian.

    The Texas penal code says someone can use deadly force to protect a third party’s property. To do so, you have to meet certain conditions, one of which is “to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property.” It would seem to me that your outrage would be more approriately directed toward the laws that allow such conduct under the Texas judicial system. However you somehow attach that outrage, either intentionally or inadvertantly, to the tool Mr. Horn used in a lawful mannor.

    Some additional facts that were not include in the article: Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death for children according to the CDC’s 2004 finding, and drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death. The forth leading cause of injury deaths in children age 4-11 is homicide. Hommicide accounted for the taking of 250 children’s lives in 2002 and forty-two percent of the homicide deaths in this age group were caused by firearms (105). Another way the CDC categorizes firearm-related childhood deaths is as follows: 55% were reported as homicides; 20%, as suicides; 22%, as unintentional; and 3%, as intention undetermined. I quote all of those numbers primarily to illustrate the relatively low % of childhood accidental deaths by firearms as reported by the government’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention agency. These numbers are in stark contrast to the massive NEA numbers you quoted which makes me wonder about the bias behind the NEA numbers as well?

    I recognize that provocative statements are necessary in order to increase traffic on blog sites, however in this instance it looks like you took an opinion (guns are bad) and then cherry picked examples and stats to try to fit that viewpoint. In the process, you’ve ignored facts that contradict your pre-determined bias, or the benefits of firearms in our society. Of course, if tomorrows blog will be to advocate for the abolishment of the automobile and the need to revert to the horse and buggy in order to protect our youth (#1 cause of child death), I’ll stand corrected…

  4. Camille Haggard on

    As Jinny so well said, our job is to pray for our leaders and pray for our country. Every Christian in this country should do this every day. Rick got it right, gun shows NEVER have loaded guns, this was obviously a gun range accident. What happened in Australia when guns were banned? There were home invasions which had never happened before because no one knew who had guns. Criminals will always have guns and law abiding citizens are idiots if they ever give up their right to bear arms. I just read in the paper this week about a rapist who returned to the same house to the same victim and kicked open her basement door where she went to hide and this time she had a shotgun and killed him. Did you catch the part where she went and hid in the basement rather than shoot him upstairs? She was only protecting herself with no aggression. The guy got what he deserved. The man who shot the burglars will have to answer to the Lord for he committed murder. That was cold-blooded. There is no easy solution to this problem of gun ownership. The rural areas will never respond to the banning of guns.


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