I think I know how young Christopher Bizilj felt.
I grew up around guns, and lived within a culture of guns until I was an adult and moved away to college. My father hunted regularly, and one of the biggest thrills of my pre-teen life was carrying a 12 gauge shotgun stride for stride beside him as we hunted along a nearby ridge for squirrels. My grandfather, a sometimes-County Constable, often held shooting matches on the outskirts of the farm on which we lived. It was fun for this 8-year-old to switch out targets for the old men, and listen to the lies they told each other in between gunshots.
Something powerful happens when one shoots a gun. It's thrilling. Dangerous. It elevates the shooter above what he was just seconds before he picked up the gun. Watch any kid with a BB gun shooting birds, if you doubt that, and catch the I-feel-omnipotent gleam in his eyes. It's a powerful feeling. And it's seductive.
I think I know how young Christopher felt at that gun fair in Westfield, Massachutes. The excitement when he first picked up that Uzi.
The anticipation that swept through him as he squeezed the trigger.
Most 8-year-old kids I know would feel the same.
"Police said Christopher was with a certified instructor, and they called the incident a 'self-inflicted accidental shooting.' The boy's father and older brother were also there at the time, a gun club member and school official said."
"The weapon was loaded and ready to fire," police Lt. Hipolito Nunez said. "The 8-year-old victim had the Uzi and as he was firing the weapon, the front end of the weapon went up with the backfire and he ended up receiving a round in his head." The boy was taken to Baystate Medical Center where he died."
What does it say about our American society, when we know that: kids in the U.S. are 16 times more likely to be murdered with a gun, 11 times more likely to commit suicide with a gun, and nine times more likely to die from a firearm accident than children in 25 other industrialized countries combined. (Centers for Disease Control).
It says we Americans value the intrinsic thrill that comes with picking up the gun over the faceless 3,000-plus children killed every year by gun violence.
To me, that means we have our priorities out of order.