by Dish Staff
Horrendous, unnecessary gun deaths are so common in the U.S. that some of them get caught on tape. The videos can have tremendous power to shape the way people think about public policy. Just last week, the filmed shooting death of Kajieme Powell by St. Louis, Missouri, police reignited a national debate about police training. The video of an Uzi destroying Charles Vacca’s life would serve as a visceral reminder of the fact that when a bullet enters the human body, that body is very likely to die.
Nicole Flatow points out that “a lack of age restrictions isn’t the only way gun ranges are safety-free zones, and potentially the sites of preventable deaths”:
Inside gun ranges, individuals can also “rent” a gun without any of the precautions that happen before an individual buys a gun. They don’t have to pass a criminal background check. There’s no check of their mental health records, although some require individuals to attest to their mental competence. Many gun rangesdon’t even collect names or identification. And that’s not even the worst part.
Even those gun ranges that want to check the backgrounds for rental customers are not permitted to. Stephen Fischer of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services told Politico Magazine earlier this month that individuals who rent guns don’t actually “possess” them because they don’t take them off the premises. So federal background check law doesn’t apply, and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is not permitted to conduct a check. Many states, including Florida, take the same position that they will not conduct background checks for gun rentals.
She goes on to list numerous instances where this state of affairs has lead to deaths. Meanwhile, Dan Baum argues the benefits of teaching shooting to kids:
A single-shot .22, while easier to control than an Uzi, can kill you just as dead. So how can such rifles possibly be appropriate for use by children? Again, context is everything. Under proper instruction, shooting is a ritual. You do this for this reason and that for that reason, and you never, ever alter the process, because doing so is a matter of life and death. Learning to slow down and go through such essential steps can be valuable developmentally. The very danger involved gets children’s attention, as it would anybody’s. But there’s an added benefit to teaching children to shoot: it’s a gesture of respect for a group that doesn’t often get any.
Becca Morn pushes back:
The detail that boggles me, even among the gun aficionados who acknowledge it was criminally stupid to let a 9-year-old fire an Uzi on automatic, is how many insist that children need to be taught how to handle and shoot a gun safely. I’m sorry, but as a gun owner myself, and even given the family I grew up in, this is a bs statement.Very young children do not need to be taught how to ‘handle and shoot’ guns. Their first lesson with firearms should be: “Do not touch or go near a gun. If you see a gun, find an adult because these things are dangerous.”
When a minor is old enough to qualify for a hunting license, that’s another matter. (In many states, the age is 12 years and up.) Even then, questions of physical ability and mental fitness of the kid, and appropriateness of the specific firearm need to be addressed. I remember a time when my kid brother was demoted by our father to pack-carrier, because he carelessly wouldn’t pay attention to where the barrel of his 20ga was pointed. That’s how you teach a kid to use a gun.