Two weeks ago, an 8 year old boy in the US state of Arizona murdered his father and the lodger. By all accounts he had ‘methodically planned the killings’.
Part of me thinks how is this possible. How could a child, not even into double figures, reach such a mentally and emotionally unstable place that they would even think to do such a thing.
My 7 year old daughter may be prone to bouts of stroppiness and the occasional defiant outburst, but I think I can categorically say (well I hope I can), that it would never cross her mind to kill me, no matter how much I nagged, moaned or reprimanded her.
Yes, I’m pretty much sure on that one. My confidence being based on the fact she is still too scared to watch Harry Potter, had nightmares after reading James and the Giant Peach (the mean aunts, not the life sized insects) and insists on going to bed with an army of furry protectors around her pillow at night, presumably standing guard to ward off any potentially unwanted bad dreams. She is not really the type to be hiding a killer instinct under her bushel.
Now while the story may have made me eye up my own child, as I refuse her a piece of cake right before dinner, I can’t say that it really surprised me to see an 8 year old up on a double homicide charge. A lack of surprise, that in itself, is even more shocking than the headlines.
The fact that this child had actually been taught how to use a gun at such a young age, and by the very person he used it against no less, says a lot. I wonder how the law works with something like this. If a child under a parent’s care is taught how to kill and then goes on to kill, is the parent responsible?
Now putting aside the whole debate about hunting and what part it plays in our society, should a child really be taught how to pull a trigger and dispense with life, when they have only just mastered the art of how to tie their own shoelaces? If it is deemed acceptable, normal even, then why do people act so surprised when the same trained assassin walks into their high school a few years later, with a chip on one shoulder and a semi automatic on the other?
I am certainly not making light of what has happened to this family or the increasingly frequent school shootings that seem to be taking place. I am merely pointing out what seems, to me at least, to be the blindingly obvious. If you teach an impressionable child skills that are both deadly and way beyond their levels of maturity and understanding, then one day they might just use those skills to ruin both their own life and that of the person who most annoys them.
It may be deemed by many a perfectly normal past time, to go out and kill animals, but if a child is taught to kill, who makes sure that they actually learn the difference between setting their sights on a prairie dog and on their fellow classmate? The workings of a child’s mind are a mystery at the best of times, so why would you possibly want to tempt fate? I personally don’t believe any claims that are made, saying there are no links between gun crime and those who shoot guns, whether that be at a wood pigeon or a zombie in a video game that glorifies violence.
Guns shouldn’t play any part in a child’s life or upbringing. Headlines prove that. After all, if you don’t have access to a gun and wouldn’t know what to do with one if you did, then however aggrieved you become with the world, the likelihood of deciding to go on a killing spree is considerably lowered.
Annoy the average child and they may stomp their feet or slam a few doors, annoy a child with a weapon and the word “No” suddenly doesn’t have so much clout.
Of course what drove the boy to kill in the first place will undoubtedly fuel the media fire and help to sell many more newspapers. If the media should be highlighting anything from this story, instead of focusing on the child’s young age and the ‘shock value’ of it all, they should be questioning why he was ever given a gun in the first place.
Bottom line is guns don’t kill people, people kill people. So don’t give a gun to anyone who is still young enough to think Power Ranges are cool and that reindeer can fly.
Actually, just don’t give a gun to anyone.