Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Poor Priorities

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."


And unnecessary.

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.


DB said...

I'm glad you shared your story, FG, but truth told, I'm still really having a difficult time accepting how this tragedy happened.

crystal dawn said...

Ya know, I can understand maybe showing a kid how to shoot a gun. Like I was taught, with a 38 Special. But a fucking Uzi? What's an 8 year old doing even holding an Uzi?

The Film Geek said...

Hey Hoyt: My story is to demonstrate how children are drawn to guns. Can't blame a kid for wanting to do it. But our society seems to value guns over kids every time.

The Film Geek said...

He shot an Uzi for two reasons, Crystal. One: He could. It was there, and his dad let him thinking it was safe. And two: kids think guns rock.

This didn't need to happen.

Sure, kids think guns are cool. Then they grow into adults who think guns are cool. It'll never end, unless guns are more strictly regulated. Regulated, as in "can't be accessed."

RedZeppelin said...

You're presenting a false dilemma. Why can't a society value kids and guns? I'm a gun owner (but not a gun "nut" totally against reasonable restrictions) and a father. I take issue with the fact that by valuing guns I'm valuing my daughter any less.

My guns and ammo are locked up safely (and separately). When my daughter is old enough I may teach her how to use them. But I'm not interested in trying to make them look "cool" to her. I'm not going to buy toy guns for her or slap an NRA sticker on her tricycle.

The Film Geek said...

Hey Redzeppelin: Your point is made and accepted. Certainly there are good parents who value both. And by all accounts, Christopher's dad was one of those people. The accident that took his life occured despite several safety measures, including the presence of a safety instructor. The only thing that would have prevented the accident from happening would be to ensure the kid did not pick up that gun that day.

We as a society don't want to take those steps. A simple rule like: "Kids under 16 cannot shoot Uzi's" would have kept this kid alive. But the gun fair folks didn't think of that, because of their value system.

RedZeppelin said...

Well, law or no law a dad putting an uzi into the hands of an 8-year old is incredibly stupid. I think you'd find that most gun-owners would agree with that. If you want to teach your kid how to shoot at that age try a Red Ryder.

So in this case I still don't think you can blame valuing guns overall. Blame the stupidity of one gun-owner.

BTW: I'm in the camp that believes the average citizen doesn't need to have automatic weapons such as uzi's anyway.

Bionicbigfoot said...

That's an awkward weapon to fire no matter who you are.

pstacks said...

Nice blog FG. I'm sick more than anything else that something like should have ever happened. Value guns, value kids, doesn't really make a difference here. Someone didn't value common sense or possess any. It's too bad the child had to pay the price. You're right; society makes guns seam really cool, especially automatic weapons. The "certified instructor" should be held accountable by the law. The father will be held accountable by his conscience for the rest of his life.