I knew I was a pacifist early on in life. I knew when I first heard, in my pre-pubescent years, of an incident in which a gun took the life of a young child — younger than I was — before they could even blink. I knew in high school when I was awake earlier than usual, watching a broadcast of Americans invading Iraq and seeing the blood of an American drip down the camera lens. I knew even then, a year after September 11 and barely a year into my freshman year of high school, that the American perspective on violence was about to shift dramatically. The Newtown shootings, however frightening and tragic they were, made me hope that maybe now our country could sit down and have a serious talk about guns in our country. For Christ’s sake, 20 children had just been shot down in what should be the safest place outside the home. How could the country not be revolted? If anything was going to give our country a wake-up call, this had to be it. Since December, with the country still reeling from the tragedy at Newtown, both sides of the fence have engaged in passionate rhetoric for or against gun control (and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t aligned with the fervor of pro-gun-control advocates). What I fail to grasp about this discussion is the apparent lack of empathy anti-gun-control advocates have for the children who are affected by gun violence.
As if the Newtown tragedy weren’t enough for pro-gun activists, let’s take a peek at other seemingly obvious reasons why lax gun control laws hurt children. Recently, the NRA convention that took place in Houston hosted a booth for a company that makes guns targeted at children. Keystone Sporting Arms, specializing in guns for minors and distorted reasoning, has a line of rifles called "Cricketts" that are designed for hands that were meant for crayons. And even though a five-year-old boy shot and killed his two-year-old sister with his new Crickett, NRA member Angela Armstrong from Ohio doesn’t “see a problem with that.” Even more shockingly, the little girl’s grandmother chimes in with this gem: “It was God’s will. It was her time to go, I guess.” Um, I know its been a while since I’ve been to Mass, but I’m pretty sure God doesn’t reveal Himself in the form of a rifle that’s pointed at a two-year-old little girl who had her whole life ahead of her. While I can’t even begin to imagine the pain this little girl’s family is enduring, when we start to ignore what’s right in front of us and disguise it as “God’s will,” we begin to justify shooting two-year-olds with rifles.
Going farther back, eight-year-old Christopher Bizilj was killed when his father insisted he shoot an Uzi that shoots 20 rounds a second at a gun expo. While the attendant at that booth urged Christopher’s father to choose a less powerful weapon for his son, it wasn’t enough to change his mind. When Christopher shot the gun, “the barrel reared up and shot the boy in the head,” killing him instantly.
Back in Houston, a seven-year-old boy is expected to recover after his brother shot him with a .22 rifle at their family home. In Georgia, two teens shot a 13-month-old baby at point-blank range “for fun.” Last October in Pennsylvania, Thomas Grant “accidentally” shot his nine-year-old cousin after confusing her for a skunk (and even more surprisingly he was sober). In Florida, a six-year-old girl was shot in the chest by her teenage brother while they were home alone.
Unfortunately, there are far more instances like the ones mentioned happening across the country daily. Until Congress decides to act, though, it doesn’t seem like there will ever be an end to the carelessness and endangerment of young children.