Video captured from moments before the accidental death of a firearm instructor in Arizona, who was shot by his Uzi-wielding 9-year-old student on Monday, has gone as viral as the gun-control debate.
The tragedy begs an oft-ignored but nonetheless important question: How can we better train our grade schoolers to handle semiautomatic weapons?
Putting an Uzi in the hands of an untrained 9-year-old is a recipe for disaster—precisely because she's “untrained.” Maybe it’s a generational thing, but as a father I believe part of raising a self-reliant, self-confident young woman is ensuring that she can handle an open-bolt, blowback-operated submachine gun by her sixth birthday. Such diligence, I contend, would have prevented this tragedy.
Without question, those in the liberal media will again manipulate this tragic accident to call for stricter gun laws, because that’s what those in the liberal media do. All we really need to do is to enforce existing gun laws, such as federal minimum age laws, or Arizona Revised Statute 13-3111, which prohibits minors under the age of 14 “from carrying or possessing firearms.” Thankfully, private property like the gun range in question is exempted from these needless regulations. Who would you rather have making your parenting decisions for you, some suit in DC or Phoenix, or the proprietors of a gun range? In a healthy democracy, shooting ranges should always be exempt from state and federal law, just as our founding fathers intended.
But since Monday, the range owners have been pressured into implementing stricter age and height restrictions, denying our youngest and shortest Americans their constitutional right to participate in a well-regulated militia.
Lest you think I’m throwing stones from inside my glass house, allow me to point out my own bona fides on this issue. I believe the life of a gun owner begins at conception. Each night during my wife’s first trimester, I played the audiobook “The Courage to Be Free,” narrated by Charlton Heston, through a set of Beats by Dre headphones draped over her stomach. During her second trimester, we moved to practical applications with “Gunsmithing the AR-15: How to Maintain, Repair & Accessorize,” by Patrick Sweeney, also narrated by Charlton Heston.
Gun training for my daughter continued when we got her home from the hospital, which, incidentally, didn't allow firearms in the maternity ward—thanks, Obama! Back at our compound, I outfitted my newborn with a special-order Baby Beretta, equipped with an arm-guard and brace mechanism that allows for accurate fire in those critical months before muscle control has fully developed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 30,000 lives are claimed by gun violence annually in the U.S. Eight percent of unintentional shootings resulted from shots fired by children, and children raised in homes with guns are far more likely to be victims of accidental shootings. It is also true that children in the U.S. are 17 times more likely to be shot than children in the 25 other highest income industrialized nations of the world. These statistics don’t faze me or my infant daughter, however. She barely registered a reaction when I read them to her, mustering only an indifferent burp. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence reports that 73 percent of children in households with guns know where the guns are kept in the house. Count my daughter in that figure—it would be hard for her to miss the Mossberg 500 mounted above her crib.
I’m not saying this is the only way to raise a child, just that it works for our family. It's up to each American parent to decide how many is the right number of guns to give their children, a bunch or a whole bunch. What I’m saying, I suppose, is it’s a place to begin an important discussion.
After all, if we can’t find a way to have a gun control debate rooted in reality—and not absurdity—then those debating on both sides of the issue will likely continue shooting themselves (hopefully only) in the foot.
David Quinones is a Fusion News Editor who is still well within the 90-day probationary period.