Monday, February 23, 2009

Blown Away

Ordinarily, I try not to get to political here. It's just a blog about funny or interesting things in comic books, after all.

But I'm finding it hard to keep silent on a recent news item, in which an 11 y.o. shot and killed his father's pregnant fiance.

With a 20-gauge shotgun that his father gave him for Christmas.


This is a 20-gauge shotgun:

DANG! NICE GUNS!!!!!

Would you give that to an 11 y.o. as a Christmas present? The gun, I mean.

For those of you who only watch cop shows, not hunting shows (and, yes, people, there are still hunting shows), imagine getting hit by a 44 magnum... twice... at the same time. That's pretty much what a 20-gauge does. Just ask the pumpkin.

Where did this happen? Pennsylvania. Of course it was in Pennsylvania. If you aren't from Pennsylvania, you probably don't know that kiling things is one of the principal pasttimes there.

I'm from Pennsylvania. And I'm from one of those families. I'm not a rabid gun-control nut. Really I'm not. We had a revolver or two in the house and we were glad of it. And I'd have one in my house now... if it were legal. Which it's not. So... I don't. Really. Anyway...

My father was a hunting guide, both in Pennsylvania and in Canada, so he not only killed things with guns, he taught other people to... for a living. Me included. Which is something to remember next time you think of getting all pissy at me in the comments section (tee hee!).

Here, in fact, is a recent photo my cousin took of himself, hamming it up.

No, I don't know why one would bother to shoot a pig. Don't ask. Just be grateful I'm sparing you the deer photos (literally labelled "Bambi") with visible wounds. And before you harsh on my cousin, he's Army, so remember you're paying him to know how to shoot things for you so you can sleep soundly at night.


Anyway, all this is just establishing my bona fides: I'm not a radical anti-gun nut. In fact, I might still go hunting, if it weren't so hard to do it while holding a pomegranate martini. And who wants to risk getting blood stains on Capezzios?

But really. It wasn't even a hunting rifle. It's a shotgun. If you give an 11 y.o. a 20-gauge shotgun for Christmas you're pretty much begging to get shot.

One of Batman's most powerful moments occurred not in his own comic book, but in Aquaman's. Crime had taken root in Sub Diego and Aquaman needed some way to arm the police force, lamenting that Sub Diego, being underwater, was a city without guns. "A city without guns," Batman said quietly; "Imagine." Aquaman's nightmare was Batman's dream.

Most political issues are pretty easy to avoid in comic books. But those that relate directly to the subject of most modern comics -- crime -- are hard to avoid. Like the death penalty.

Or gun control.

33 comments:

TotalToyz said...

The highly underappreciated Bill Mantlo once wrote a very powerful story about the gun issue, presenting it from both sides. It was in an issue of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man. #71, I think, but I may be off an issue or two. (You can't miss it; the title "With This Gun" is big and bold on the cover.) Worth a look.

Rich said...

If the kid actually did it (which doesn't seem to be established in the stories I've seen so far), the gun just made things easier. Eleven years old is plenty big enough to kill a sleeping pregnant woman with an everyday kitchen knife, assuming that said eleven year old is a psychotic monster in the first place.

That said, yeah, giving a shotgun to your kid is clearly a Bad Thing. But I'd be more worried about him shooting himself or a friend by accident than deliberately committing murder with it.

Scipio said...

It's MUCH easier to kill someone with a 20-gauge shotgun than an everyday kitchen knife.

Particularly when you're an 11 y.o.

As Batman points out in the Dark Knight Returns, guns make it too easy...

Anonymous said...

I do have a pistol and shotgun in my home, because I'm not a paragon of physicality highly trained in the martial arts, and I don't have superhuman powers either. Sadly, the bad guys don't care. Batman's dream would also be the dream of every home invader or rapist with a knife - no way for the weak to defend themselves.

God bless Colonel Colt.

-- Jack of Spades

Roberts said...

My parents gave me a 20-guage shotgun at a similar age. What they didn't give me was ammo, or unrestricted access to the gun -- I was only allowed to handle it when my dad took us to a target range or hunting. I also received a lot of training, and this was many many years ago.

On the other hand, my brother got a .22/.410 gauge when he was young and shot a hole in our roof while showing it off to a friend, so I'd say the better thing is to err or the side of safety and not give kids deadly weapons.

verification word "scalo" - a male-only opera house

TotalToyz said...

Crime had taken root in Sub Diego and Aquaman needed some way to arm the police force, lamenting that Sub Diego, being underwater, was a city without guns.

Of course, we all know in the Silver Age Aquaman would have solved that problem in two panels, with pellet-guns adapted from the underwater speargun, distributed by obedient octopi to the scuba-suited police force.

Ben said...

I'm from Eastern PA, and Scipio's spot-on about gun ownership and hunting. The first day of deer season is often set up as an day-off/snow-day makeup day for schools, just to offset the amount of students that call off. As part of local culture, the gift of that size of gun to a boy that age would not have caused anyone to bat an eye. I'm not saying that social mores dictate permissibility, but that it diminishes the individual's odds of considering non-traditional things like "Maybe the gun's a bad idea." I'm not trying to descend into debate about agency or responsibility, I'm just saying that social inertia can be difficult to overcome... which might be why Scipio doesn't live in rural PA anymore. Sorry, I'm rambling.

Ben said...

Of course, we all know in the Silver Age Aquaman would have solved that problem in two panels, with pellet-guns adapted from the underwater speargun, distributed by obedient octopi to the scuba-suited police force.

Noooo, spearguns are too conventional. They'd be shooting barnacles by squeezing sea sponges or some such nonsense.

Scipio said...

"Aquaman would have solved that problem in two panels, with pellet-guns adapted from the underwater speargun, distributed by obedient octopi to the scuba-suited police force."

Actually, that's almost exactly what he and Batman came up with.

Scipio said...

And Ben speaks truth. Many of us didn't go to school on the first day in-season.

TotalToyz said...

Actually, that's almost exactly what he and Batman came up with.


Damn, it's scary when my jokes dovetail with DiDio DC's reality! Maybe Pieface really is behind the Blackest Night!!

Anonymous said...

My Dad gave me a shotgun when I was 12 I wanted a BB gun but he thought those where toys and I would not respect it. I was taught to never point a gun at a person and never say I'd kill anyone. My Dad was a hunter and WW2 vet. It all comes down to personal responsibility.

Anonymous said...

"But really. It wasn't even a hunting rifle. It's a shotgun. If you give an 11 y.o. a 20-gauge shotgun for Christmas you're pretty much begging to get shot."

Scip, a lot of people hunt with shotguns. In fact, if you bird hunt, you HAVE to use a shotgun, unless you are Annie freaking Oakley. In my neck of the woods, practically every boy gets a shotgun at around 12 or 13. It's sort of a right of passage here. And of all those thousands of kids, one kid went nuts. It's not fair to paint with such a broad brush.

Scipio said...

Heh, we didn't bird-hunt, we were deer-hunters; I see your point!

Although I love the idea of young Bulls-Eye and Deadshot going bird-hunting with rifles. Or a box of rubber bands and paper clips.

ziffer said...

It needs to be sais time and time again, guns don't kill people, people kill people.
You could give that same shotgun to 100 ii yr olds, givethem all the same (thorough)firearms training and 99.8% of them wouldn't harm anyone themselves included. You take this 11 yr old kid and maybe he has some mental or anger issues, if so he definitly shouldn't be given firearms. Perhaps the father is an idiot and doesn't know anything about firearms and thought it would be cool to give his kid a gun because his friend gave his kid one.
Again the gun is an inanimate object and just sits there and does nothing until a human intervenes.
My point, some people shouldn't have/be allowe to have guns for whatever reason. Does that mean that the rest of us shouldn't be allowed to have them.
My father gave me a .22 when i was 12, he also had spent countless hour teaching me firearm safety. The gun and ammo wasn't locked away from me and nobody got shot.
People that don't have mental issues and have firearm training should be allowed to own guns period.
Look at how many people and families alcohol has killed and ruined. It's still illegal.Why? Because politicians like thier wine and liquor period...they don't care if it ruins millions of lives as long as it's not thiers.

TotalToyz said...

Guns don't kill people, they just make it absurdly easy for the sick bastards who do.

Bill Reed said...

There's a lot of comics bloggers from PA. Hmm.

Yeah, they love their huntin' around here. Me, I hate it.

Roel Torres said...

Just read the article. Why is he being charged as an adult? He's 11 years old! That's a kid, not an adult.

Serious crime. Senseless death. But that doesn't mean he is equipped with the decision making faculties of a grown-up...

TotalToyz said...

Roel, what would you charge the kid with?

Me, I would charge the dad who gave him the gun with reckless endangerment and negligent homicide. But then, I'm not a DA in rural Pennsylvania who wants to get re-elected.

Derek said...

Ziffer, if I may, your ultimate argument is "People that don't have mental issues and have firearm training should be allowed to own guns period.", correct?

But earlier you said:

"My point, some people shouldn't have/be allowe[d] to have guns for whatever reason. Does that mean that the rest of us shouldn't be allowed to have them[?]"

Here's the thing. While there are a few extremist who actually do want to ban guns completely (Batman), most gun control proponents want exactly what you do: "People that don't have mental issues and have firearm training should be allowed to own guns period."

The "They want to take away our guns!" response (not your words, of course; the quote is just a sentiment that always seems to come from the anti-gun control side) is a strawman argument. Gun control advocates simply want people who want to own guns to be trained in their use and upkeep and to keep guns out of the hands of people who cannot or will not use them responsibly; the mentally ill, people convicted of a violent crime, and yes, children.

That doesn't mean a parent can't own a gun and teach a child how to use it. But giving a child unrestricted access to a gun is a recipe for disaster.

Anonymous said...

Guns don't kill people.

Joe Chill kills people. After being paid by Lew Moxon to make it look like a simple mugging.

Anonymous said...

Giving a real weapon to a child is a POLITICAL thing. Parents (Fathers, really) who are pro-gun (to the point of irrationality) give kids guns just to rub it in the nose of gun-cautious people.

That woman died because a man wanted to push his gun views onto his kid... instead of waiting till the kid was actually old enough to be responsible enough to own a weapon.

I don't blame the gun. I blame the gun culture.

Anonymous said...

An 11-year-old isn't responsible enough to possess a CELL PHONE, for Christ's sake. I know, I deal with such students every day.

Anonymous said...

Guns should at a MINIMUM be treated at the same level as automobiles.

You need a LICENSE. You need TRAINING. And every gun comes with a TITLE of ownership.

(Don't give me the "title/license makes it easier to take our guns" argument. The gov't doesn't need to take your guns to tyrannize you. Just ask the Iraqis. They all had guns, and Saddam still controlled the country.)

Anonymous said...

(Don't give me the "title/license makes it easier to take our guns" argument. The gov't doesn't need to take your guns to tyrannize you. Just ask the Iraqis. They all had guns, and Saddam still controlled the country.)

Yep, the Second Amendment doesn't mean squat without other rights. Gun ownership can be entirely legal, but what if the government decides you are a (domestic) terrorist and rounds you up in the middle of the night? I'll take habeas corpus over a squirrel rifle any day, thank you.

The more I think about it, though, some of the country's biggest gun enthusiasts are also our most diehard terrorists: White Supremacists. The guys have even been daydreaming semi-openly about assassinating our President ... all the more reason for sane gun enthusiasts to repudiate the terrorists they are allied with on gun issues.

TotalToyz said...

Yep, the Second Amendment doesn't mean squat without other rights.

Not to mention the fact that the Second Amendment (as written, not as often misquoted by gun enthusiasts) says nothing about private gun ownership. What it says is, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the preservation of a free society, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The words "regulated" and "militia" appear in the first breath.

Diamondrock said...

Batman doesn't like guns. That's all *I* need to know.

Janus said...

Kids and guns. Only in America...and Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, Iraq, Somalia...

TotalToyz said...

But not Canada, Japan, Australia, Great Britain, or France. Add up the populations of those countries and they just about equal the population of the USA. Last year the USA had over thirty thousand gun deaths while those countries put together had fewer than two hundred.

Stephen said...

Let's see, what other things that you keep around the house might have a similar trend... other than rat poison, weed killer, bug spray and various disinfectants (all very specific about what it is they kill) I can't think of one. Even a car doesn't set out to be good at killing at people, although it does do that rather well.

So when a kid kills someone with a gun, rather than a TV remote or a stapler, there are some serious questions to be asked.

TotalToyz said...

Exactly, Stephen. The gun is the only invention I can think of, and certainly the only one that anyone would even think of having in their home, that serves no purpose other than spilling blood.

Citizen Scribbler said...

Really, Stephen?

Although I can dig on your more underlying point, I'd have a lot more questions to ask about a kid who kills someone with a TV remote- though I doubt the large majority of them would be serious...

-Citizen Scribbler

Anonymous said...

Of course, we all know in the Silver Age Aquaman would have solved that problem in two panels, with pellet-guns adapted from the underwater speargun, distributed by obedient octopi to the scuba-suited police force.

That's why Silver Age heroes will ALWAYS be superior to post-Crisis heroes. They SOLVE the problem.

Look at Batman. During the 70s, you rarely saw a regular Bat-villain compared to the endless sprees of the modern era. That's because 70s Batman took care of business. The modern Batman...hell, he's so pathetic that HE is part of the problem!

Swan's Superman woulda NEVER been killed by a simple thug like Doomsday.