Who the hell was in charge?
This second story has to be one of the most epic failures to observe basic firearms safety I have ever read, on so many levels:
Gun Club, Police Chief Indicted in Boy's Uzi Death
Read the article. I'll still be here.
Done? Okay, let's carry on.
What the fuck were they doing putting an automatic weapon in the hands of an eight-year-old boy? I've seen adults who can't handle submachine guns. One indoor range in this area actually rents automatic weapons for use on their 25-yard range. There are no experience requirements; any yahoo who's willing to fork over the money for the rental fee and is willing to pay for a few hundred rounds of ammo can take one on the range with minimal supervision. It always pisses me off to no end. There I am, firing slowly but steadily, always sure of my target, and some asshole saunters up to a firing point and goes rock and roll in a 25-yard long, 10-yard-wide indoor space. Recoil on these light weapons forces the muzzle up, then the shooters damage the target carriages and punch holes in the ceiling 3 yards from the firing points. I don't even know if the ceiling is armored in case these jagoffs miss so widely.
Maintaining control of a weapon in automatic fire means firing in short bursts of 4 to 6 rounds. Someone who's never handled one before will panic and keep the finger on the trigger, letting the gun run away until the magazine is empty, walking the rounds from the target up to the ceiling. In the case of this poor young kid, he lost total control and the muzzle ended up pointed at his head while he still had the trigger depressed.
From a supervisory standpoint, why were they allowing anyone under 21 to handle an automatic weapon? When the organizers decided to let a bunch of got-dam kids handle M60s and MG42s, why did they not consult Massachusetts law, which is pretty stringent about firearms in general? Where were the supposed safety observers and instructors? Why the hell was the kid entrusted to the supervision of a fifteen-year-old?
There's enough aversion to firearms here in the U.S. already. This does nothing but add to it. Teaching a child how to safely and responsibly handle guns is tough enough without taking them to a full-auto shootex. Shit, I never received anything beyond the four safety rules until I was 14 myself, and even then I only learned the rudiments of marksmanship with air rifles on my high school's JROTC rifle team. Learning with air rifles is a good start but no substitute for actual firearms. It wasn't until I was under the tutelage of the PMIs and Drill Instructors on Parris Island that I received the sort of in-depth instruction on safety and fireams handling that I needed.
When I have children, I'm not going to leave them in the same informational and safety void I was left in thanks to a gun-averse dad. It's not enough to tell children that guns are bad and to avoid them. They have to be taught to safely handle guns. The four cardinal safety rules, checking to ensure weapons are unloaded, knowing how to operate the safeties on any guns they may handle, and above all that they are not fucking toys. The carnival atmosphere at that Springfield shoot may have contributed to everyone's complacency. Now a young boy is dead because the adults around him wouldn't or couldn't act like adults.