Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Monday, December 6, 2010

With rights come responsibilities

It is incumbent upon those on the side of unfettered gun rights to own up to the lack of responsible behavior of some of their own regarding who should be able to shoot guns, where they should be able to shoot them, and the age at which children can handle guns safely. The tragic death of a Massachusetts boy who was killed while his father stood watching him shoot a sub machine gun at a gun firing range is such an example. Now comes the trial for those responsible for allowing the deceased boy to shoot an Uzi. This is so senseless as to be incomprehensible. Why allow young children to shoot sub machine guns? For what purpose? They are not self defense or hunting. For fun? It seems to me that kids can have a lot more fun doing things that kids do, like playing with other kids in the neighborhood, riding their bikes, playing soccer, baseball or hockey, etc. It is not my idea of a good time with kids to allow them to shoot Uzis at a firing range and it abrogates responsibility on the part of more than a few adults. The father of the 10 year old boy must be devastated by the boy's shooting death. I am wrapping my head around the fact that he is an M.D. and still thought he should expose his son to this type of gun. If adults can't be responsible around their own children, what are the children learning?

The outcome of this trial will be important to the future of these kind of lax rules allowing children to shoot dangerous weapons that they are not prepared to handle. When will we ever learn? Common sense should dictate that with rights come responsibilities. Guns are dangerous weapons that can injure and kill.

17 comments:

  1. What a strange prosecution. Furnishing a machinegun to a minor? Under federal law, no transfer occurred as the owner/agent was present. Even if he gets convicted, this should get thrown out on appeal. Involuntary manslaughter only applies when the consequences of an action are reasonably forseeable. It's hard to imagine that something like this would happen, which means it isn't reasonably forseeable. They should have chalked this up to a tragic accident and told him not to do it again. Instead the State decided to charge the guy instead of going after real criminals.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Clearly, someone made a terrible decision allowing this kid to shoot this gun. I'm local to this tragedy, and there remains a great deal of dispute over just whose decision it was.

    I'm not sure that your ideas of what's fun should dictate the laws, though. Plenty of people, including supervised minors, shoot these sort of guns for fun, and to my knowledge, this is the first fatality at one of these events in recorded history.

    ReplyDelete
  3. japete --

    If it's not your idea of a good time to take kids target shooting, then don't do it. There's nothing ipso facto irresponsible about "allowing children to shoot dangerous weapons"; what's irresponsible, and what led to tragedy in this particular case, is incompetently supervising them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "those on the side of unfettered gun rights"

    And who would those individuals be?

    ReplyDelete
  5. "It seems to me that kids can have a lot more fun doing things that kids do, like playing with other kids in the neighborhood, riding their bikes, playing soccer, baseball or hockey, etc."

    Have you fired enough full auto firearms to make this judgement? Everyone I've ever seen fire a machinegun has responded with an ear to ear grin.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is truly a freak accident!!! In fact, it
    may be the first time in decades that anyone was, in any way, harmed by an automatic weapon in private hands in this country.

    Please folks, let's stick to the real issue of keeping guns away from prohibited persons!!!

    Even with this unfortunate tragedy, Class III weapons have a far better safety record than even muzzleloading firearms!!! They have a far better record than "kiddy pools". And, of course, bagels.

    I'll go so far as to say that Class III weapons should be the poster child for bonfide common sense gun laws.

    Brent G.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Why do we allow children to play football? Statistically it is far more dangerous than shooting, with even less real-world applicaiton

    This particular incident was a perfect storm. The combination of high bore axis, high cyclic rate, small size, short barrel and lack of a shoulder stock make the Micro Uzi one of the most difficult machine guns to control, and one of the few likely to twist in the way that caused this accident. Additionally, the shooter lacked strength and experience, and the magazine had more than a few rounds. Eliminating any one of those factors would have prevented this tragedy.

    This got enough publicity that a similar situation is unlikely--not by banning supervised children from all machine guns, but by making sure that inexperienced and weak shooters don't start with full magazines in the most difficult machine guns.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You are surprised that the father was an MD and allowed this to happen?

    Don't you know that doctors kill more people every year than guns? That is all gun deaths; suicide, homicide, and accidental. I'm not cherry picking the data here.

    Medical error is the fifth largest killer in the US.

    There are a lot of things more dangerous than guns. There just aren't a lot of things more sensational than guns.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That's questionable- http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/d/doctor-deaths.htm- "
    That's all interesting to know but the premise of the email is weak and, as we said, mostly aimed toward humor. Comparing doctor deaths to accidental firearm deaths is meaningless, especially because doctors are dealing with people who are sick in the first place, some of whom are at high risk for death or have gone through high risk medical procedures. "

    " However, medical error definitions are subject to debate, as there are many types of medical error from minor to major,[1] and causality is often poorly determined.[2] The Health Grades study statistics, based on AHRQ MedPAR data, were based on administrative records, not clinical records, and largely overlooked multi-causality of outcomes.[3]" from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_error

    And finally, this one: " “If medical errors and infections were better tracked, they would easily top the list. In fact, a visit to your doctor or a hospital is twice as likely to result in your death [than] a drive on America’s highways.”" from: http://www.healthnews.com/family-health/medical-errors-cause-increasing-number-preventable-deaths-each-year-3559.html

    It seems like some conflicting information here. We have not experienced what is reported in some of the articles in my community. I understand that there are many other causes of death. I have chosen to concentrate on preventing gun injuries and deaths. Many other groups are devoted to working on preventing deaths from other causes. Thank goodness there are people working on all of these issues so we can become a healthier and more safe society. I know you guys keep bringing up other causes of death. Because there are other causes of death does not mean I should drop my efforts to work on this issue.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This was a tragic accident. Luckily, it is extremely rare. Indeed, the number of accidental deaths of children due to firearms is quite low compared to other activities and has been decreasing both in per capita and absolute terms for many years.

    Why allow young children to shoot sub machine guns? For what purpose? They are not self defense or hunting. For fun?

    At our local range one night we saw a church group of women and girls shooting a bunch of WW2 replicas. We overhead some conversations. The young women and moms were excited and felt empowered. I'm in favor of most things that are safe and allow young people and women to feel empowered and independent. Shooting full auto machine guns under superivision, statistically, is no more dangerous than having them ride bikes or participate in team sports as you suggest.

    //

    74 children under the age of 15 were killed in bicycle accidents in 2009. In 2008, the number was 93, with 13,000 kids injured. There are around 50 million kids age 5-15 (prime bicycle riding years). According to the NHTSA, around 39.1% of people age 16-24 ride bikes (the highest demographic); let's assume that 2/3 of kids ride bikes.

    That gives a death rate of 0.279 per 100,000 children that rides bikes and an injury rate of around 40 per 100,000.

    Meanwhile, there are around a quarter of a million registered machine guns in the US. 1 death gives you a death rate of 0.4 deaths per 100,000 machine guns. Moreover, that year with one death is an outlier; usually there are none at all. This quick look seems to imply that riding a bicycle is perhaps slightly safer than shooting a full auto machine gun, but they are definitely in the same ballpark as far as risk goes.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The prosecution is good, as far as it goes. There should be several others charged as well, not the least of which is the father.

    Sevesteen, who usually has reasonable things to say, came out with this outlandish remark about football.

    "Statistically it is far more dangerous than shooting, with even less real-world applicaiton."

    Maybe like Chris, he was talking about football deaths and injuries compared to machine gun deaths and injuries. This way all those stories we read about won't count.

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Why allow young children to shoot sub machine guns? For what purpose? They are not self defense or hunting. For fun?"

    Yes, they ARE for self defense. Just because there's currently a yet-to-be-ruled-unconstitutional law banning fully automatic weapons, doesn't mean it's not legitimate. They are weapons in common use around the world and the self defense is not against a doped-up thug. They're for self defense against a jack-booted thug.

    "The outcome of this trial will be important to the future of these kind of lax rules allowing children to shoot dangerous weapons that they are not prepared to handle. When will we ever learn? Common sense should dictate that with rights come responsibilities. Guns are dangerous weapons that can injure and kill."

    Yes, they can and do. This is the EXACT reason the ENTIRE gun community dictates training, practice, training, and practice as much as is possible.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The prosecution is good, as far as it goes. There should be several others charged as well, not the least of which is the father.

    Do you also support prosecution of families that lose children in arguably preventable car accidents? We recently went to a funeral for a small child that died in a car wreck. The kid was not properly in a booster seat, as state law requires. The DA is not pressing charges.

    Unless there's criminal intent or a conspiracy I don't think a criminal prosecution is appropriate in such cases. The loss of your child is more than enough penalty for what is simple negligence or perhaps a misdemeanor.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is always difficult. Even though there are CAP laws in many states, it is very difficult to charge a parent when they are grieving the loss of a child. I tend to think that their grief is the "punishment" for their negligence, if there was any.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Luckily we have prosecuturial discretion: the interests of justice are not always served by hewing strictly to the harshest letter of the law. An important check of the executive on the legislature.

    Civil court lawsuits may be a more effective recourse to obtain justice for victims in cases where a party was negligent, but lacked the mens rea of criminal negligence. There's no reason why the father couldn't sue the gun range or others if he thought they were somehow negligent. I think it'd be pretty tough to prove criminal negligence in this case, personally, as it is a rather high bar.

    \\

    Unfortuanetly the record for Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws seems to be mixed. The laws may make us feel good but sadly they don't seem terribly effective in reducing child mortality from guns.

    Although CAP laws may represent a promising intervention for reducing gun-related morbidity and mortality among children, in the judgment of a Community Guide expert panel, there is currently insufficient evidence to validate their effectiveness as a public health intervention aimed at reducing gun-related harms.
    - Public Health Law Research, backed by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation

    Given that the RWJF has hired pro-gun control scholars like Arthur Kellerman as fellows, supported gun control efforts with financial grants, and is based in NJ, I don't exactly think that they are NRA shills -- and even they don't think these laws have proven terribly effective.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I agree completely, Chris, that the loss of a child is often more than enough punishment. Many of these cases we read about where parental neglect allowed a child's gun death, I'd opt for the loss of gun rights and no jail time.

    ReplyDelete
  17. mikeb302000, "neglect" is a crime. It is child abuse. And "neglect" is already punishable through current law.

    If you mean stripping peoples constitutional rights without due process, I disagree completely.

    You can't strip rights without a felony conviction (or misdemeanor for a Lautenberg).

    ReplyDelete