Thursday, May 2, 2013


As Stephanie Sparks cleaned the kitchen, her 5-year-old son, Kristian, began playing with a rifle he was given last year. She stepped out onto the front porch, poured grease out of a frying pan for the dogs and “heard the gun go off,” a Kentucky coroner said.

Authorities said the boy had fatally shot his 2-year-old sister, Caroline, in the chest.

In rural southern Kentucky, far removed from the national debate over gun control, where some children get their first guns even before they start first grade, the accident stunned the community.

Kristian’s rifle was kept in a corner of the mobile home, and the family didn’t realize a bullet had been left in it, Cumberland County Coroner Gary White said.
I read the tragic story the other day, and I had no words, only a broken heart.
“It’s a normal way of life, and it’s not just rural Kentucky, it’s rural America — hunting and shooting and sport fishing. It starts at an early age,” Cumberland County Judge Executive John Phelps said. “There’s probably not a household in this county that doesn’t have a gun.”
I'll let Charles Pierce speak for me.


Also, too: goddammit.

Up with this, I no longer have to put. If your "way of life" involves handing deadly weapons to five-year olds, your way of life is completely screwed up and you should change it immediately because it is stupid and wrong. (And, again, also, too: goddammit, "learning to use and respect a gun" means at least knowing that the fking thing is loaded when it's sitting in the corner of the parlor like it's a damn umbrella stand or something, and we should talk about that part, too.) It is not in any way "normal" to hand a kindergartner a firearm. If a mother from the inner-city of, say, Philadelphia did that, and the kid subsequently shot his sister to death, Fox News never would stop yelling about the crisis in African American communities and the Culture Of Death, and rap music, too. If your culture is telling you that children who have only recently emerged from toddlerhood should have their own guns, then your culture is deadly and dangerous and that should concern you, too. If your culture demands that, in the face of a general national outrage over the killing of other children, your politics work to loosen the gun laws you have, as they apparently did in Kentucky, then your culture is making your politics stupid and wrong and you should change them, too. I do not have to understand these people any more, and it is way too early in the day to be drinking this much.
Also Rmj at Adventus:
This gun fetishization has to stop.  "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" applies to the Second Amendment, too.
When I am too stunned for words, others speak for me.

I have no doubt the family is devastated, and I offer prayers for them.
Grant, O Lord, to all who are bereaved the spirit of faith and courage, that they may have strength to meet the days to come with steadfastness and patience; not sorrowing as those without hope, but in thankful remembrance of your great goodness, and in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love. And this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen.
And for their child.
O God, whose beloved Son took children into his arms and blessed them: Give us grace to entrust this child to your never- failing care and love, and bring us all to your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.
And I pray that many families will learn from the tragic loss in this one family.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, it is, Cathy. I can't imagine that anyone would give a rifle to a 5 year old?

  2. Here's what the little sister was shot with:
    This just defies understanding.

    1. amyj, at the link in my post to Charles Pierce's blog is a screen shot of the rifles for sale for children. The link to the website of Cricket Firearms is now "undergoing maintenance or experiencing problems."

      It's incredible that parents give rifles to children. The men in my family are hunters, but my boys did not have rifles until they were grown. They learned gun safety with BB guns and pellet guns.

    2. Charles Pierce is right on target. There is no excuse, no possible reason to let a 5-year-old handle a deadly weapon, not ever, not anywhere.

      Responsible parents, like the hunters in your family, start the kids out with BB/pellet guns when they are old enough to handle them safely. But not an actual .22 - that should be strictly illegal, and backed by stiff fines and penalties.

      But as Rmj suggests, the God of Guns demands human sacrifice. How disgusting.

    3. What else is there to say but that our gun laws are insane, because guns have become idols?

  3. Oh, dear Mimi with whom I so often agree ... the God fearing gun owners of Kentucky will likely pray, console themselves with familiar words like,"God took her home, our angel too good for this world," ... they will grieve and blame fate or God or shrug and accept this as one of the inevitable tragedies of hard lives in hard places ... prayer changes none of it. And others are unlikely to "learn" anything from this child's death (look at the endless number gone over the years in senseless events accomplishing nothing by way of prevention or learning or progress) ... no doubt a pile of stuffed animals will appear, candles will be lit, but nothing real will come of it. Why? Because the next horrible thing will be in the news, and the next and the next and busy people with troubles of their own will be overwhelmed, will protect their own sanity by turning away, will excuse all lack of actual doing to change things with quite reasonable lists of things they have no time or resources to do ... and some of those of faith will "give it to God" and go on about their day with some semblance of serenity preserved, if not another life. The truth is, it's not awful enough or rare enough or massive enough to move the powers that be to change anything ... sad, they will say, but not their fault that people in trailer parks do foolish things with lethal weapons, that "culture" is impervious to change or limitation ... and tomorrow another batch of guns will be sold and those who make them and prevent their regulation will spout more platitudes and be glad that such things do not happen in their insulated, cushy, protected world -- only "out there" in the backwater that feeds their industry.

    1. Marthe, I pray for the parents in my own way and believe that the prayers count for something. Maybe I pray for the sake of my own sanity. And I don't mean that I expect that because of my prayers our gun laws will change tomorrow or any time soon, but I do need to pray for them.

    2. Dear Mimi - Sorry - that sounded much harsher than intended. I only meant to say that some people substitute prayer for doing the things that protect children. I am firmly, always in favor of prayers for families and comfort and working through whatever issues arise.

    3. Marthe, I agree we cannot rely solely on prayer. We must do what we can do in addition to saying our prayers.

  4. Here's an embarrassing admission: I played w/ my dad's guns.

    When I was about 10 to 12 or so.* Dad had always emphasized two things: 1) never EVER point them at anyone, EVEN IF you're sure they're unloaded. 2) BE SURE they're unloaded!

    ...but still, I took them out of the gun case (I knew where the key was kept) for fun-time posing (w/ my brother), when my parents weren't there. Should not have happened---stupid little sh*t I was---but it did.

    * In California at that time, kidnapped Patty Hearst posing as "Tanya" left quite an impression.

    1. A dangerous business, JCF. How many people have been killed with guns that were "not loaded"? Every gun is dangerous, and most certainly, children should not have access to them ever.

  5. The irony here is that the NRA talks about the rights of "responsible gun owners," but actually opposes any attempt to enfoce responsible behaviour.

    While I have never owned a firearm (and outside of my military service, have never even touched a loaded firearm), I know lots of responsible gun owners - including one family that have already bought their infant daughter's first hunting rifle (which will remain securely locked up for several years).

    The story tells us the rifle was propped up in a corner with a bullet still in it. A responsible gun owner would have had the rifle secure under lock. The bolt would have been secure under a seperate lock. The firearm would have been confirmed empty before taking out the bolt. The ammunition would have been secure under a third seperate lock.

    1. To speak plainly, the parents were gravely irresponsible to have an unsecured rifle in the house with a 2 year old and a 5 year old. I don't like guns at all; I have an aversion to them, but I want my husband and sons to be able to hunt. Since I enjoy eating game very much, I would be hypocritical to demand the outlawing of guns. None of the men in my family would be prevented from doing what they do if we had sensible gun laws.


Anonymous commenters, please sign a name, any name, to distinguish one anonymous commenter from another. Thank you.