|Father and three-year-old daughter at Day of Resistance rally, February 2013, defending her right to be color-coordinated, perhaps.|
When Children Play with Guns, Somebody Dies
We tend to keep our progeny out of harm's way; it's instinctive. How many parents allow their children to amuse themselves with matches or play soccer in busy streets? Damn few, I wager, because those activities are dangerous, of course. Amusement parks all over America are regulated by standards set forth by the American Society for Testing and Materials to the degree that children must adhere to non-negotiable height restrictions for even the tamest rides. This is not messing with our freedoms; it's saving our children's lives.
The number of federal or state laws and regulations addressing children and guns? ZERO. Oh, there are plenty of tips for having weapons in the house; just typing in How to keep children safe with guns in the home yielded two hundred and thirty-four million hits.
Charles Bizilj, a Connecticut emergency room doctor and father of eleven-year-old Colin and eight-year-old Christopher, decided that running up to Massachusetts to this event would provide his boys with a spot of jolly good entertainment. It did not turn out that way.
[Full disclosure: There is so much appalling about this story that it's difficult for me to write.]
Dr. Bizilj gave his signed permission for his younger son to shoot an Uzi, a submachine gun that fires 20 rounds a second. The fifteen-year-old line officer, who was not licensed to possess machine guns or act as an instructor, actually advised the father twice that the gun was probably not a suitable weapon for his son because of its violent recoil. Even though it was obvious that Christopher was having difficulty handling the gun, his father insisted that he be allowed to shoot the Uzi. Ultimately, the child lost control of the weapon, shot himself in the head, and died. Police determined his death was a self-inflicted accidental shooting.
Charges and Verdicts
Involuntary manslaughter charges were brought against Edward B. Fleury, the former police chief who organized the gun expo. Verdict: Not Guilty.
Involuntary manslaughter charge were also brought against Carl Giuffre and Domenico Spano, who supplied the guns for the show. The prosecutor dropped the charges after the Not Guilty verdict for Fleury.
Michael Spano, son of Domenico Spano and the line officer who advised Dr. Bizilj that his son should not be shooting the Uzi, was not charged, even though Massachusetts law states that it is legal for children to shoot a gun only if they have a parent's permission and are supervised by a properly certified and licensed instructor.
Because there are no laws against parental stupidity in Massachusetts (nor in any other state where guns are concerned), Dr. Charles Bizilj was not charged in his son's death. In fact, he and his wife sued the Westfield Sportsman's Club and settled out of court for $700,000. In addition, Dr. Bizilj wrote an eighty-two-page book that sells for $23. Was it about a parent's responsibility to make good decisions when it comes to guns? No. Did it advocate for new gun laws to protect the very young? No. Amazon.com described it in two sentences: A clear and defined approach to managing the profound grief after the loss of a loved one. Written for those who have the desire and courage to return to meaningful life after such a loss. (The customer reviews are brutal.)
UPDATE: In what can only be considered one of the most offensive statements a person who is morally responsible for the death of another can make, Dr. Bizilj said at his son’s funeral that they had experienced many adventures, of which the machine gun expo was just another. Then he added: Christopher lived a lifetime in his short eight years. Susie and I have no regrets.
It seems that some senators are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place due to their voting against the expanded background checks bill that failed recently, and have signaled their willingness to take a second look at it.
I have a suggestion for Senate Majority Leader Reid that will put some teeth in the next gun reform proposal:
Introduce a bill that completely repeals the Second Amendment, and start the negotiations from there. You've got very little to lose, Harry.
Don't retreat; repeal!