Thursday, May 2, 2013

To Be 5 and Have a Notch in Your Gun

Among the gunshot deaths in the United States Tuesday was this one, in Burkesville, Ky., near the Tennessee state line: Kristian Sparks, 5, slew his sister, Caroline, 2, with his very own .22 rifle, which he received as a gift.

Her death was an accident, said the coroner, Gary White. “Down in Kentucky where we’re from, you know, guns are passed down from generation to generation. You start at a young age with guns for hunting and everything.”

The local judge, John Phelps, said,“It’s a normal way of life, and it’s not just rural Kentucky, it’s rural America — hunting and shooting and sport fishing. It starts at an early age. There’s probably not a household in this county that doesn’t have a gun.”

Guns are a normal way of death in this sorry nation, as well -- but by five-year-olds?  Is there no limit to the derangement of the American gun culture and the spineless politicians who tolerate it while accepting the NRA's filthy lucre? How many more children must die before the sane portion of our citizenry rises up and demands sensible regulation of firearms?

Caroline Sparks's brief life was snuffed by something called a Crickett.  "It’s a little rifle for a kid. ... The little boy’s used to shooting the little gun,”  Coroner White said.

The company that makes the rifle,  Keystone Sporting Arms, is based in Milton, Pa. The  “Kids Corner” on its website displays pictures of young boys and girls at shooting ranges and out hunting. It says the company produced 60,000 Crickett and Chipmunk rifles for kids in 2008. The smaller rifles are sold with a mount to use at a shooting range. Keystone also makes guns for adults, but most of its products are geared toward children. “The goal of KSA is to instill gun safety in the minds of youth shooters and encourage them to gain the knowledge and respect that hunting and shooting activities require and deserve,” the website says.  Bill McNeal and his son Steve McNeal, according to the site, founded the company in the mid-1990s. In 1996, with just four employees, they produced 4,000 rifles for little children. Today it employs about 70 people. Now they all have blood on their hands.

The Washington Post quotes Sharon Rengers, a longtime child advocate at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville: "Oh, my God, we’re having a big national debate whether we want to check somebody’s background, but we’re going to offer a 4-year-old a gun and expect something good from that?”

Only in America. Only in ignorant, gun-toting, misguided, crazed, deluded, too often angry America.

How must it feel to be five years old and know that you have killed your baby sister?

Only in America.