Monday, October 27, 2008

What's legal isn't always what's right

This one falls under the "What were the adults thinking?" category.

WESTFIELD, Mass. — An 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head while firing an Uzi submachine gun under adult supervision at a gun fair.

The boy lost control of the weapon while firing it Sunday at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club, police Lt. Lawrence Valliere said.

The boy, Christopher Bizilj of Ashford, Conn., was with a certified instructor and "was shooting the weapon down range when the force of the weapon made it travel up and back toward his head, where he suffered the injury," a police statement said.

Christopher died at Baystate Medical Center.

Although police called it a "self-inflicted accidental shooting," police and the Hampden district attorney's office were investigating, officials said.

"We are going to review all the circumstance regarding what happened, who was involved, what authorities they may or may not have had, who was supervising," District Attorney William Bennett said Monday.

It is legal for children to fire a weapon if they have permission from a parent or legal guardian and are supervised by a properly certified and licensed instructor, Lt. Hipolito Nunez said.

Those conditions were met in this case, he said. He declined to release the supervisor's name.

The club said on its Web site that the event, run in conjunction with C.O.P Firearms and Training, is "all legal and fun." People are allowed to fire weapons at vehicles, pumpkins and other targets, it said.

Officials of the private club and the firearms group could not be reached for comment. There was no response to a message left on a club answering machine. The C.O.P. group's machine clicked off without taking a message.

The sportsman's club was founded in 1949 and describes itself on its Web site as promoting "the interest of legal sport with rod, gun, and bow and arrow, both directly and through training."

It has eight firing ranges as well as archery and fishing facilities located on 375 acres in Westfield, about 100 miles west of Boston.


FRIGGA said...

Interesting. Sad. While I think it's extremely important to teach children about fire arms and, if you're going to have them in your house, to teach them how to use them. However, it's equally important to take into account the size of the child and their ability to maintain control of the weapon. If the gun has too much fire power for the child to shoot it, then it's the parents fault for allowing the child to use it.

Not the club's fault. And very sad.

Anonymous said...

It's really not the parents' fault when the parent entrusts their child with a certified instructor. The instructor should NEVER have let the child near the weapon, especially knowing full well the power it packed. How is a parent supposed to know exactly how powerful a certain weapon is? The bottom line is that a young life has been lost and there are a LOT of people mourning him. People need to spend less time placing blame and more time consoling.

Valtool said...

You (anonymous) are completely wrong in absolving them of blame. At 8 years old they are entirely responsible for the well being of their child.

There is no reason to think the parents (or responsible party supervising the 8 year old) were not aware of the power of the weapon in relation to the ability of the child to control the weapon.

For what reason is it necessary for an 8 year old to fire a sub-machine gun?

You say that people need to spend less time placing blame. I believe people should spend more time being held accountable for their actions instead of playing the role of victim.

In the State of Florida there is a law on the books holding the owner of a weapon criminally responsible for any harm caused by a child who gains access to a weapon and does harm to himself/herself or others. In the eleven years I lived there, this law was never applied because everyone felt the gun owner had suffered enough. What is the result? Kids continue to injure and kill themselves and others. Is it unreasonable to think that if the gun owner is held accountable (placed in prison for a long time) that gun owners would be more responsible for the safe maintenance of their weapons?

BTW - -I am not opposed to gun ownership, but I am entirely for responsible gun ownership.

amy said...

It is very sad that a life was lost and I know this family is grieving.

How is a parent supposed to know exactly how powerful a certain weapon is?

Anything that has a potential to be a weapon should be under strict supervision.

Regardless if anyone was at fault, its really sad that a little one lost his life.

Anonymous said...

I'm not from the US but I am against firearms ownership. There are just too many crackpots out there with easy access to firearms.

I just heard of this news and truly it is very sad.

"For what reason is it necessary for an 8 year old to fire a sub-machine gun?"

That is exactly what I had in mind when I read this news.

Americans might hate me for saying this, but it's the lack of such common sense that encourages the firearms violence that we see in America now.

Seriously, an 8 year old is but a child. How much does a child understand firearms and the permanent damage they can cause? Allowing an 8 year old to shoot is just inviting trouble because it will stoke their curiosity and the child will want to shoot again because it's fun.

God bless his soul. May he rest in peace.

FRIGGA said...

Wow, Anon sure is on the loon L side of things. Parents know the capabilities of their children way better then a stranger running a gun shop. The parents should've known he wasn't strong enough to handle such a powerful weapon.

Oh, and gun laws only take guns away from law abiding citizens. The criminals, they don't tend to care about laws so much, so they would remain the ONLY ones armed. Gee, would that make YOU feel safer Anon? Not me!