Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Somebody needs to go to jail

An investigation is under way after an 8-year-old boy accidentally shot himself to death Sunday with a submachine gun at a gun fair in Massachusetts. The AP reports that Christopher Bizilj shot himself in the head when he lost control of the Uzi 9mm micro machine gun as it recoiled while he was trying to shoot a pumpkin during the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club. Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett is investigating whether firearms laws were violated and whether is was "a reckless or wanton act to allow an 8-year-old to use a fully loaded automatic weapon." Gee, do you think? Said Bennett, "At this point in the investigation, I have found no lawful authority which allows an 8-year-old to possess or fire a machine gun." The boy's father, Charles Bizilj, said Christopher had fired handguns and rifles before, but Sunday was his first experience with an automatic weapon. Supposedly, a certified instructor was with the boy at the time, but clearly he or she didn't provide sufficient instruction and/or supervision. The father said he was about 10 feet away from his son, ready to snap a photo. He's just one of the people who should be facing criminal charges in this case. Reckless endangerment would be the minimum charge, in my opinion. There was no comment on the incident from Edward Fleury, owner of COP Firearms & Training, which co-sponsored the event. A report in The Republican, a newspaper in Springfield, Mass., identified Fleury as the longtime police chief in the town of Pelham, Mass., which took administrative action against Fleury in 2003 after he discharged a loaded rifle while teaching - wait for it - a gun-safety class. The AP said Fleury's company and Westfield Sportsman's Club have held the gun expo since 2002. The Springfield newspaper said Fleury described it in a 2005 interview as a safe environment for people "to see and fire some of the guns that they've seen in the movies, or on the History Channel, or other events that involve firearms." Like maybe an 8-year-old kid blowing his head off?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Certified" firearms instructor? Certified nuts, maybe.

Where is our common sense? If they're going to allow fantasy testing of this sort, I can't wait till the guillotine, broadsword and mustard gas fair.

October 29, 2008 at 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the heck, doesn't every 8-year-old boy have that special rite of passage when he fires a machine gun for the first time?!

I imagine there will soon be comments up here by the gun crazies, who think any sensible regulation of guns is the first sign of totalitarianism...

--Brad Hundt

October 29, 2008 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I was thinking the same won't be long before the gun zealots come flying out of the woodwork. This situation is so stupid that it barely deserves comment. I agree with Brant...there should be some jail time all around.

October 29, 2008 at 2:10 PM  
Anonymous dg said...

We love our God and love our guns.......what a heartbreaker of a story.

October 29, 2008 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

What about the case in Upper St Clair about two weeks ago, when a twin was shot by his brother. I think they were eight years old as well.

The father had a story about taking the gun to a flea market in Bridgeville, but it didn't sell. He brought it back home, and carelessly put it away in a closet. The twins found the gun, and one of the boys shot his brother. I think I have the story right -- somebody correct me if wrong.

I thought for certain the father would be charged with something. Such as not the case. As I understand the aftermath, no charges were filed.

Where is the line drawn in these cases where children get access to guns, or are otherwise not properly supervised to prevent an errant gunshot? I don't know the answer to my question. It is not merely a rhetorical one (like I am prone to ask).

October 29, 2008 at 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is nothing more than collateral damage that goes along with our long struggle to make sure all the stupid people have firearms. He died for the cause.

October 30, 2008 at 1:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I recall the story correctly, the gun In the Peters Twp. case was left accessible by the father after the trip to the flea market, but it was not left loaded. However, the ammunition was accessible in a different location and the twin who accidentally shot his brother knew where to find the ammo and how to load the gun.

My father kept a .22 bolt action rifle in a closet, but my mother kept the bolt in her dresser drawer. There was no ammunition available. And without ammunition ...

You can argue all you want about how proper training teaches respect for guns, but the bottom line is that you have to account for every possibility -- even for lapses of watchfulness by the most careful of parents and the ingenuity of kids.

I'm not a hunter and I see no need for anyone who isn't to keep a gun of any kind in the house or anywhere that it can be accessed quickly. If you just have to have guns, keep them in a gun safe and keep the ammo separate and locked up as well. I don't buy self-defense as justification for having a loaded gun in a closet or bedstand drawer. The Constitution may well guarantee the right to bear arms, but the conditions under which it was written ceased to exist long ago.

October 30, 2008 at 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Steelerfan43 said...

This is a sad story that should of never of happened. I am trying to understand why an 8 year old or any child under the age of 16 would need to have access to a firearm or need to learn how to use a firearm. These are children. Curious, immature children who don't understand the consequences of their actions. They don't understand that there is no coming back from death. This father should be haunted for the rest of his life of his irresponsible and stupid decision. What makes this story even worse is the fact that the father is an ER doctor. He has probably seen his fair share of gun related deaths. The little boy in Upper St. Clair will be haunted for the rest of his life because of his curiosity and the fact that his father was an idiot who allowed them to have access to a rifle, whether loaded or unloaded. We as parents are supposed to protect our kids not put them into situations where injury or possible death is likely.

October 30, 2008 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Roger said...

steelerfan43: You commented about nobody under 16 should have need for access to a firearm, or need to learn how to use a firearm. On the first point, I agree completely. On the second point, not so much. If hunting is part of a family tradition, and the parents are part of the tradition, hunting is something to be passed down. As a young man, I was in a household where we had two guns, never locked, used on occasion for animal control on a farm. But, I knew others of my age who were well trained with guns, hunted as soon as they could get a license with the parents (usually the father), or other relatives. It was considered no different than taking a young person fishing. The person learned to use the gun properly, developed a passion for the sport, and continued a long family tradition.

I now know two young folks, early teens who are trained and have youth permits/licenses. I don't know exactly what that means, except they are properly authorized to hunt with their father. This family has hunted for years, as part of their food supply. Last year both young folks (one a boy, the other a girl) brought home a deer for the family. This season, the boy already shot a deer during a special three-day youth season. For them, having a freezer with deer meat is important for their family budget.

I say get the young folks the proper training and respect for the firearm. We get all hyper about this issue, yet give them a license to drive a 3000# automobile at age 16. How many more teens are killed in stupid driving accidents than with wayward guns?

October 30, 2008 at 9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's really incredible about this story hasn't even happened yet. An effort will be made to ban allowing children to fire Uzis and the NRA, with its politcal and financial power, will fight it to the ends of the earth. It is their belief that anyone, even an 8-year-old, should have access to firearms. They believe it is their rights as Americans and will vigorously fight any effort to limit that right.

October 30, 2008 at 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Steelerfan43 said...

Roger I respect your opinion about hunting, but I still don't feel that a child under 16 should be allowed acess to a firearm. You mention them being allowed to drive at 16 and getting into accidents. This occurs because of inexperience and immaturity. So are you saying that if Dad taught their child to drive around the same time they allowed them to use a firearm that accidents would not happen? I honestly don't think a 16year old should be allowed to drive either but that is the law and that is why I choose 16 as the age that children should be allowed to start using firearms.

October 31, 2008 at 9:39 AM  
OpenID Wormie270 said...

Roger, I agree with your comment.

A 12 year-old can get their hunting license but cannot hunt alone until their 16. So, they have 4 years to learn how to propertly handle the gun and saftey laws and whatnot through an adult.

You can get your driving permit at 16 but only have 6 months of driving experice to take your test.

Sounds to me that a 16 year-old hunter has more experice with guns than a 16-year old driver.

October 31, 2008 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

My personal thoughts on "age requirements" is that you have to draw a line somewhere, but wherever you draw it, it will seem arbitrary and insufficiently explained... However, a separate issue is with the intent of the object. A car is intended as a mode of transportation... When the operation of that object is faulty, the accidental result can be death. The intent of a gun is to launch a projectile accurately toward an object, normally living, so as to render that object dead. When the operation of that object is faulty, sometimes it still fulfills it's intended purpose. But accidents are going to happen... I think the outrage is that some people all but ensure that they do.

October 31, 2008 at 12:33 PM  
Anonymous SSSS said...

E-I respectfully disagree-that is ONE purpose of a firearm. Millions of rounds are fired each year at non living targets, clay birds, bottles,cans, etc with NO intent to kill.
The fault here lies with the adult in charge of this boy for not properly supervising him. I allowed my son, at a young age, to fire an automatic rifle, but I held it and he only pulled the trigger.

November 7, 2008 at 9:23 PM  

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