By now, you know about the nine-year-old who lost control of her firearm and accidentally killed instructor Charles Vacca. How much instructing was going on verses general supervision by a range employee is unclear to me. I neither witnessed the event nor is there enough video for me to make a determination. For certain, a man is dead and a child traumatized from poor judgment. And poor judgment, even resulting in death of a participant, should not be criminalized.
From the news reports, opinion pieces, and hysterical comments on various social media, the general thoughts are that a nine-year-old should not have been allowed access to that weapon, with some going so far as to say any weapon. (I will not dignify these ignoramuses’ opinions or give them attention by linking to their media.) The result shows this particular nine-year-old should not have had access. We have a room temperature corpse to prove the point.
However, not all nine-year-olds are created equal. It depends on the kid. I’ve been around adults I didn’t think should be handling weapons. I have been around very young children whose weapon handling I trust implicitly. If you don’t believe me, please allow me to introduce 9-year-old Shyanne Roberts, a nationally sponsored competitive shooter from Franklin Township, New Jersey. Again, it depends on the kid, and requires adults to exercise what a super-majority of the populace believes does not exist; namely, judgment.
The fact that sloppy weapon handling exists gives me absolutely no right to stifle anyone else’s rights outside of a location I control. Instead of relying on agents of the government and their ham-fisted enforcement to be responsible for my personal safety, I rely on good judgment to keep myself free of extraneous holes in my body. Mr. Vacca, again judging from the result, exercised poor judgment.
I carry a gun as part of my job and lifestyle. If I am not carrying one, there is usually a firearm within easy reach. I am by no means a professional gunman or some sort of gunslinger, but I do pretty well, if my last qualification score of “expert” is any indicator. And it probably isn’t. I have handled a firearm virtually every day of my life from the age of about eight, and never once discharged a round I did not intend. However, it is entirely possible little Miss Roberts would shoot circles around me (Good job, kid).
Whether I am an expert or not, I will leave to others to decide, but thirty years with no unintentional deaths strikes me as a pretty solid track record and more than just luck. But for all I know, I have horrible weapon handling skills and am a living, breathing negligent discharge looking for a place to happen.
What gets me are the self-appointed experts in the gun world. They take a class from a guy who took a class, and presto, they are experts, too. Much like a Crossfit instructor, but slightly less annoying because they jabber on about a subject I find interesting. They explain at length how my choice of gear is inferior, my methods ineffective, and why I should own a gun safe. I have nothing against gun safes or their manufactures. I even have an ancient steel cabinet type my father gave me. I use it to store gunpowder. If you want one, by all means get one. However, chastising, shaming, and ultimately threatening me with the weight of the law only makes me want to retreat from your upside down society.
These folks are from the same camp that encourages me to carry on an empty chamber “for safety.”
Their safety measure will get them killed.
These Dead Men Walking also go apoplectic if I am not holding my muzzle up, down, sideways, or whichever direction is deemed safe this month. I suspect they have precious little experience in environments where everyone is armed.
The fact of the matter is there is no such thing as a safe direction.
Most bullets will easily pierce a wall or, if you are in a hardened structure, ricochet around your space several times before coming to a stop. You, not the gun or the bullet, are dangerous at a far greater distance than the wall of the room you occupy. What you have to do is pick the safest direction possible and go with it, which usually gives precedence to living things physically near you.
To borrow a phrase from James Yeager of Tactical Solutions:
“Your situation dictates your tactics. If you’re in a helicopter, point the muzzle down. If you’re in a rubber boat, point the muzzle up.”
I can tell you from experience that in an airplane or MRAP jammed full of guys and gear, there really is no such thing as a safe direction. Flagging is a pretty common occurrence that you learn to live with. You do the best you can in the situation.
The misguided Safety Sallies miss the point entirely when they talk about guns (and most other subjects). They espouse freedom of choice as long as the choices I make fit into their view of what is acceptable. They assume my brats are as bad as theirs. That they will be instantly drawn to any firearm they come across and begin pulling the trigger indiscriminately. This presumes my children lack respect for firearms in particular and for other people’s property in general. If you are shaking your head right now, you are exactly the sort I am talking about.
Safety Sallies hate those who disagree with their perfect parenting skills. This generally includes imposing responsibilities and penalties on everyone else because of their delinquents. “It’s only a minor inconvenience,” they say. “Besides, it’s for the children.”
With all due respect: Screw you and screw your children, too. Teach your little demon spawn to stay out of places they do not belong.
If they don’t run for the nearest police station to snitch on the scary mountain man, they tisk-tisk me because I am clearly ignorant, foolish, or both. (And very likely the worst of all possible things; disagreeing with them). They smile at me because they possess the secret keys to all parenting skills. The skills they have honed over their half decade of raising their single, solitary little angel. They smirk at the poor, hapless fool in front of them that is I, and tell me something along the lines of “you don’t know kids.”
That is the answer! I clearly have no idea what it takes the raise children because I only have six of them.
Try an experiment the next time you have a kindergartner around. Unload your pistol (You don’t have a pistol around? Why not?), cock it, and ask him to pull the trigger. None of mine could do it at that age. They could not operate a slide or bolt, either. They simply lacked the strength. Maybe I had weakling children or trigger pulls that are entirely too heavy.
Now, if they had manager the feat, maybe my calculus on getting a safe would have been different. Or maybe I would have stored them differently. “But mine are older,” I hear you crying out. OK. Exactly when were you intending to teach your children gun safety? Seven? Ten? Fifteen? Sometime before college?
I thought the logic behind a gun safe was to prevent access from little ones incapable of distinguishing a toy from a serious tool. If that is the case, do not neglect to purchase a safe large enough to store all woodworking equipment. Those have the potential to inflict some pretty serious damage as well. Oh, and you really should store the nails separately from the hammers.
And while you are at it, purge your entire house of toy guns to prevent confusion of little minds and engendering the idea that gun-play as play is acceptable. Since I do that in my house, you should be required to do it in yours, too. I took a firearms class once, so I’m an expert.
How do you like it when the Safety Patrol comes knocking on your door? The point is secured is secured, whether in a standalone floor safe in a secret vault built into your cellar or stored unloaded in a bedroom closet. The determination parents ascribe to their children to haul out a weapon, load it, perform the manual of arms to prepare it to fire, and carelessly play with it until the kid fires a round off almost speaks to murderous intent on the child’s part.
If that scenario horrifies you to the point of complete exclusion as a possibility, the only other way little Johnnie got hold of a loaded gun is because you left it that way outside of you immediate control.
So you get to pick, Safety Sallies. Either your child is some sort of criminal mastermind capable of planning the perfect murder by passing it off as an accident, or it is your fault. However you want to assign the blame, your model does not fit my house. Safe is as safe does.