To start things off, I wouldn't want to be in Dr. Charles Bizilj's shoes right now. He has to deal with the loss of his son, something that happened largely of his own carelessness:
The teenager who worked at a gun show where 8-year-old Christopher Bizilj accidentally killed himself while shooting an Uzi testified today he twice suggested the boy's father pick a less powerful weapon for the boy to shoot.
But Christopher's father, Dr. Charles Bizilj, insisted that his son be allowed to fire the automatic weapon, Michael Spano told the court. Spano was 15 at the time of the 2008 Massachusetts gun expo and was put in charge of allowing people to fire the 9 mm Micro Uzi, a submachine gun that fires 20 rounds a second.
Former Pelham, Mass., police chief Edward Fleury is on trial for the boy's death because he organized the gun expo. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty.
The most dramatic moment of the trial came Thursday when the court watched video recorded by Charles Bizilj of the boy handling the gun. The father, who was on the stand at the time, closed his eyes as the video showed the boy struggling to handle the gun's recoil. The barrel reared up and shot the boy in the head. The court room gasped and the boy's mother left the courtroom in tears.
The family may have to relive that moment again in painstaking detail. The prosecution has asked that the video be played again, this time frame by frame. The judge has not yet ruled on that request.
It's one thing to teach a young boy how to safely handle and shoot a low-powered .22 long rifle in a safe environment. It's another to let a boy fire a submachine gun known for being a handful in the hands of a full-grown adult.
But that's not all. With the gun control debate raging, accidental discharges seem to be getting more play in the news:
A 4-year-old child was injured when hit by bullet fragments Saturday morning after a gun accidentally discharges at a Tupelo gun show.
The child was hit by fragments from a bullet that went through a wall. Also, a man was grazed in the leg in the same accident.
Tupelo Police say both were treated at North Mississippi Medical Center. Neither suffered life threatening injuries.
A preliminary investigation indicated it was an accident and no charges are expected.
And yet another accidental discharge:
At least four people -- three in North Carolina and one in Indiana -- were injured after weapons went off at gun shows Saturday, officials said, at a time when there's been renewed discussion about private gun sales at such shows.
Dixie Gun and Knife Show attendees bolted, with at least one woman wiping out in the frenetic scene, after gunfire rang out around 1 p.m., as seen on video captured by CNN affiliate WRAL.
Police later explained that a a 36-year-old man from Wilmington, North Carolina, was unfastening the case of his 12-gauge shotgun on a table near the show entrance when it accidentally discharged. The man planned to sell the shotgun at the show.
The bird shot ended up injuring three people. One was a sheriff's deputy, who suffered a slight injury to his hand and was treated and released at a local hospital before returning immediately to work, said Joel Keith, chief of police of the North Carolina State Fair.
A 54-year-old woman from Benson, North Carolina, was being treated a wound to her right torso at a local hospital, and a 50-year-old man from Durham, North Carolina, was treated for an injured left hand, Keith told reporters.
Even gun dealers are getting in on the accidental discharges:
Police in Medina say a gun dealer was checking out a semi-automatic handgun he'd bought Saturday when he accidentally pulled the trigger.
Police Chief Pat Berarducci says it appears the bullet struck the floor, then a longtime friend of the gun dealer. The man was wounded in the arm and leg.
Berarducci says the man was taken by helicopter to a Cleveland hospital. His condition isn't known.
Police say the gun's magazine had been removed from the firearm but one round remained in the chamber.
These incidents all happened at gun expos, places that offer a smorgasbord of firearms and relatively loose controls on purchases. In contrast to gun store purchases, gun expo sales are considered private transactions between individuals and thus aren't subject to background checks. Therefore, there's no Form 4473 to fill out. Making guns harder to purchase is something the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups are dead set against happening.
Meanwhile, it's easy to dismiss the above as simple accidents made by careless individuals, events that don't reflect on guns and gun ownership in a larger light. Too bad there are millions of careless individuals out there who choose to exercise their right to bear arms without knowing how to properly bear those arms. According to research performed by Dr. Arthur L. Kellermann, a gun kept in the home was 43 times more likely to be involved in the death of a member of the household than to be used in self-defense.
Kellerman's statistics were seen as a sneaky end-run around the gun control issue by having it reclassified as a health concern and subsequently squashed thanks to the efforts of NRA lobbyists. For their efforts, the Centers for Disease Control, which was responsible for funding Kellerman's findings, was fiscally cut off at the knees and told, in so many words, to stick with contagious diseases and brain injuries.
On a lighter note:
House Republicans gathering to discuss minority outreach picked an odd venue for the retreat — a former slave plantation.
Weary GOPers left Washington Wednesday for the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., where they’re recuperating and focusing on unity after last year’s rough-and-tumble fiscal cliff fight with Democrats.
Panels will take place in the resort’s “Burwell Plantation” room, named after the family that once owned the plantation. The luxury resort is now owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz, a conservative political donor.
On tap for Friday morning is a forum to discuss “successful communication with minorities and women.”
Republican lawmakers also hope to address the looming battle against the Obama administration over a debt limit extension and budget cuts.
I'm not surprised. The trappings of a genteel antebellum establishment that once represented the pinnacle of Southern economic power is the perfect place for Republicans to discuss “successful communication with minorities and women.” It's a lot like the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, except instead of divvying up a continent, the GOP gets to feign cluelessness about those dangblasted minorities and womenfolk.