Update II below
Reading of this tragedy has left me speechless. The local paper reports:
The accident which occurred about 2 p.m. at the Westfield (MA) Sportsman's Club on Furrowtown Road, remains under investigation ...
Witnesses told police the boy lost control of a fully automatic UZI he was shooting under the supervision of range officers at the club "when the self-inflicted accidental shooting occurred."
But what was an 8-year old boy doing shooting an uzi?
Reading the local paper, we learn that the boy's father
is medical director of emergency and critical care at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford.
The Minnesota Star Tribune reports
The boy's father and older brother were also there at the time, a gun club member and school official said. Francis Mitchell, a longtime member and trustee of the club, said he was told the boy's father was supporting his son from behind when the shooting happened.
It is legal in Massachusetts 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.
The event ran in conjunction with C.O.P Firearms and Training
"It's all legal & fun — No permits or licenses required!!!!" reads the ad, posted on the club's Web site.
More details about the event were reported by The Republican
Attendees under the age of 16 were admitted free, and free .22-caliber pistol and rifle shooting for adults and kids was offered, according to the promotional material.
The sportsman's club is a private, nonprofit organization incorporated in 1949 that has 375 acres with facilities that include eight firing ranges, as well as facilities for archery and fishing. As of July, it had nearly 1,200 members.
During a tour of the club in July, its officers pointed out the care taken to ensure safety at the firing ranges.
COP Firearms & Training operates machine gun shoots and provides firearms training and sales, as well as gunsmithing and other services.
The web site for the gun club has been suspended.
Part of the COP firearms advertising for the event included this:
Partial Proceeds go to Shriners Hospitals for Children
Not surprisingly, this article has generated a lot of comments. Here are two that seemed thoughtful (meaning, I agreed with them).
Not really sure I would connect age to this incident. there are quite a few video clips online today where an adult accidently shoots themself because they are incapable of handling the weapon, very similar to this.
In this case you had a kid using an uzi, was there a determination that this kid could handle it, if so by what standard or by whom?
Guns are always a touchy subject, but dont be so quick to assume on this because we really dont know what happened.
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This tragic situation has nothing to do with gun laws, rather common sense. You can't legislate common sense. It is intrinsic and we are suppose to teach it and live it with our children. There is nothing wrong with adult supervision and a child using a firearm- like a bb gun or a .22 cal. Little kids ride motocross with manageable machines, but you would not put them on a 1100cc racing bike. They can't handle it.
This is about common sense, and yesterday it went out the window in Westfield. It was a terrible accident, but like most avoidable. Similar to putting your kid in the back of a pick-up- and they end up dieing. Not about laws. About putting children in harms way.
An updated report to the original story in The Republican notes:
Long-time club member state Rep. Donald F. Humason, R-Westfield, attended the event Sunday but had left before the Bizilj was shot.
"This is a terrible tragedy," Humason said. "It was a tragedy not through the negligence of the instructors or the club. Everything was done under the supervision of licensed instructors."
Asked about allowing youngsters to fire machine guns, Humason said, "If we don't teach kids how to use dangerous things they will find them and use them the wrong way. No amount of legislation will stop accidents from happening."
So a Republican State Representative, and long time club member was at the show. No problem. It's an annual event - The Big Pumpkin Shoot.
He says one of the right things "this is a terrible tragedy".
He says another thing, that is "right" to the extent that it offers up at least a little shield to the club and COP Firearms organization from any law suits. No negligence - everything was supervised by licensed instructors. But this is a false analogy. Medical malpractice is committed by licensed MD's. Are the licensing requirements adequate? Who knows?
But the absolutely KILLER part of Representative Humason's statement comes next. This simply enrages me. "If we don't teach kids how to use dangerous things" (good, we have an admission that an uzi is a dangerous thing) "they will find them and use them the wrong way".
How in the hell are eight-year old kids going to find uzis? Are they just lying around on sidewalks like pennies? Does everybody's home have uzis, which call out to eight-year old children "use me, use me?"
And finally, this REALLY sums up Republican / Small Government / Conservative talking points in a way that speaks for itself: "No amount of legislation will stop accidents from happening."
Well, NO KIDDING. No amount of legislation will stop accidents from happening. But some amounts of legislation CAN stop horrible accidents from happening. And that is why, some legislation is needed. Because quite clearly, common sense did not factor greatly into this equation.
So a horrible tragedy occurs, and a republican does what republicans do so well. Use a tragedy to advance an ideology - leap to a preemptive defense of a corporation AND an organization to which the Republican belongs; say we had to do allow if for the sake of the children; and then spin it in a blatant manner to preempt imposing legislation on the firearms industry.
Oh. My. God. In. Heaven. Jesus wept.
It appears that Rep Humason's responses to this tragic incident could also be a reflex response given that he serves on the Massachusettes Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure ... a committee that might very well be called to take action based upon this tragic event.