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Responsibility in Organized Shoots

There are hundreds of machine gun shoots that happen across the country without incident every year.  It’s a great way for a curious public to come and learn about automatic firearms, and try them out, in a controlled and safe environment.  I’ve never seen someone shoot an automatic weapon that didn’t come away from the shooting line with a big shit-eating-grin on their face.  Done right, I think machine gun shoots are actually a great public relations tool.  But the key to doing it right is “controlled” and “safe”, and pretty clearly what happened in Westfield fell down on both those counts.

Every accident that happens at organized and public shooting events is going to be examined under the microscope of public scrutiny.  All it takes is one tragedy to lose the perception among the public that this is a safe activity.  All it takes is one accident for hysterics and anger to get directed back at the shooting community as a whole.  Other sports get a break.  We don’t.  And on top of all that, there’s a tangled web of legal issues involved, especially when you bring machine guns into the picture.

There is no universe where an eight-year-old kid with little prior firearms experience should be handed a fully loaded machine pistol and told to go to town.  I don’t care if his dad said he had fired guns before.  I don’t care how excited the kid is to try to shoot one.  Machine pistols legitimately are more dangerous in untrained hands than other ordinary firearms.  Most other shoulder fired or mounted automatics are heavy enough that even a novice user can retain control.  Machine pistols are another story.  I once had my friend’s M11, which is similar in size and weight to the Micro Uzi, get away from me while firing it on full automatic.  No rounds were sent in an unsafe direction, but the baffling and armor plating on the range took a hit as a pulled the last round high.  It was embarrassing.  That wasn’t the first time I had ever fired a machine pistol either.  I never fired that gun on automatic again unless I had a death grip on it.  Anyone who’s familiar enough with a machine pistol to instruct with one ought to know that you must use extreme caution in teaching beginners.  There is no way I would let an eight year old handle a machine pistol.

This is a tragedy on multiple fronts.  It’s a tragedy because a child died.  It’s also a tragedy because a family has been ruined.  It’s a tragedy for the father, who is going to have to live with this for the rest of his life.  Finally, it’s a tragedy because there are probably going to be good people, who pose no danger to society, going to prison over this.  There is no way for Justice to prevail here.  There is no wrong that can be righted.  But a child died in a gun accident in Massachusetts, and you can bet that someone is going to be made to pay.  It might not be justice, but it is the law.

4 Responses to “Responsibility in Organized Shoots”

  1. OrangeNeckInNY says:

    Exactly. Remember the scene in ‘True Lies’ where Jamie Lee Curtis’ character shoots the Uzi and it jumps out of her hand and starts spinning wildly, all the while spraying bullets in 360* vertically? Of course, in the movies, only the bad guys get killed for comedic value, and no one scrutinizes the movie industry’s blasé attitude towards guns when it suits their purposes and pocketbooks. But because this happened in real life to an 8-year-old, the media is going to town on this. The media seems to have a double standard on everything these days, it seems with regards to politics and guns. It’s no wonder why people like us don’t put much faith in them anymore.

  2. Peter Hamm says:

    Yeah, damned media. Getting all worked up about an eight-year-old boy dying from machine gun fire.

    Friggin’ media.

  3. Sebastian says:

    Would the media be covering it as much as they are if the dad had been a speed boater, let the kid drive the speed boat, and he lost control and fatally ran it into a buoy? Not saying this isn’t man bites dog to some degree, but I just have to wonder if similar lapses of judgement would get as much attention if there wasn’t a gun involved.

  4. Bitter says:

    “…I just have to wonder if similar lapses of judgment would get as much attention if there wasn’t a gun involved.”

    Or if Pete wasn’t sending out press releases?

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