Besides the tragedy that guns can bring, there is no deadlier combination for moral and legal responsibility than guns and God. Just ask the family of Caroline Sparks, a two-year-old toddler who was shot with a .22 rifle by her brother- who was five years old, and received the gun as a birthday gift.
What is most difficult to comprehend is the family’s response. Little Caroline was described by her family in the video as a “church-going girl who enjoyed singing and playing outdoors,” as if she understood and chose to accept Divine Revelation at 2 – and go to church.
Acknowledging the tragedy, Caroline’s uncle said “It’s just tragic…It’s something that you can’t prepare for,” as if you should ever have to. The family believes that Caroline is in a “better place.”
The grandmother said “It was God’s will. It was her time to go, I guess…I just know she’s in heaven right now and I know she’s in good hands with the Lord.”
However, nobody is legally responsible. A Kentucky State Police trooper said the shooting had been ruled an accident, stating: “It’s just one of those nightmares…a quick thing that happens when you turn your back.”
The incident was also explained away by the belief that it is a common practice in this neck of the woods to give 5 year olds guns as birthday gifts. The manufacturer of the gun that killed little Caroline, Crickett specifically markets the gun to children, which boasts the slogan “My First Rifle”.
Today, CNN published a piece by Holly Yan featuring the four children of the shooting instructor Charles Vacca, who was killed by a 9-year-old at a shooting range a year ago today in Arizona.
The children acknowledge their father schooled them on gun safety, but Vacca’s daughter Elizabeth, 16, noted they were not permitted to fire them because they were too young.
The Vacca children have enough sense to have started a petition pushing for legislation to prevent children from shooting automatic weapons. While that may not have saved little Caroline, it is especially interesting to know some children recognize the tragedy that an unchecked gun lobby brings, even if the adults who make guns don’t.
The authorities are not holding little Caroline’s mother legally responsible, and the grandmother discharges moral responsibility for Caroline’s fate as God’s will. When will we finally put some rational rules on the use of firearms? There is absolutely no reason for children this young to be using firearms. They are far too young to understand the consequences of their actions. Now this boy must live with his crime for the rest of his life.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.