Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Babies capable of firing a gun in the United States

A United States police officer. / EP

The death of a Florida resident by an accidental shooting of his two-year-old son shakes the country and highlights once again the dangerous access of minors to their parents’ domestic arsenals

The death of a Florida resident from a gunshot fired by his two-year-old son has once again convulsed the United States, a country still shaken by the recent massacre at the Texas elementary school and living under the weight of a constant series of murders with firearms. The Police consider the tragedy as an accident after ruling out that the man had committed suicide and that the child acted consciously. But he has arrested her mother for involuntary manslaughter due to the carelessness of the parents with the weapon. The gun was loaded, ready to fire and lying on the ground inside a backpack, one more example of the dangerous “naturalness” with which thousands of citizens treat firearms in the United States, according to critics of their indiscriminate trade. A nightmare inside hell.

The events occurred on the 26th in a house in Orlando, in central Florida, although the authorities have not offered the information until this morning, when the investigation has been closed. Police received an emergency call alerting of a shooting. Upon arriving at the home, they found a woman, Marie Ayala, next to the body of her dying husband, Reggie Mabry, 26, lying on the floor. An ambulance took the victim to the hospital where she died shortly after.

The first hypothesis pointed to suicide. Mainly because any other seemed unbelievable in a home with two boys five and two years old, and a five-month-old girl, and a mother suffering from a genuine anxiety attack that nullified her possible authorship. But the theory dissipated as soon as the agents interviewed the woman and the children. According to Orange County Sheriff John Mina, the oldest of them explained that his brother had shot his father while he was playing a video game. The policemen concluded that the boy evidently acted without being aware of what he was doing. He simply found the gun in a backpack that Reggie himself had left lying on the floor of the room, picked it up and pulled the trigger.

Of course, there are questions for amazement. How a two-year-old is able to understand the workings of a weapon and use it quickly and without a shadow of a doubt (the whole family was in the same room and no one had time to react) remains a mystery of investigation. Either it was a fatal coincidence, or the little boy replicated the movements that he could have seen on television and in video games, or it is an unfortunate consequence – one more – of a country’s culture that prioritizes even careless knowledge of weapons. of fire.

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The small author of the shot comes from a dysfunctional family. His parents had been through correctional facilities for drug use and child neglect. How they could dispose of a weapon being convicted is another unknown. Possibly the slightest in a country with a powerful black market and quite lax controls, as evidenced by the geography of active shooters in recent decades. The mother is now back in jail. Apart from an accusation of illegal possession of weapons, Marie Ayala faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter because the gun “was not well kept” and she was loaded and ready to shoot. “In fact, it was easily accessible even for a two-year-old,” notes the sheriff. Mina recalled that “owners who do not properly secure their weapons are a fraction of a second away from one of these tragedies occurring in their homes.”

Beyond its accidental character, the homicide has caused a new commotion due to the unprecedented age of its author, just a baby. However, it is not the only case. In 2011, a two-year-old boy was killed in his Washington home by shooting himself in the face with a revolver belonging to his father. In 2016, four-year-old Bryson Mees-Hernandez also died after discovering a gun under her grandfather’s bed pillow and accidentally shooting himself with it. That same year, 6-year-old Cameron took the life of his brother of four in an Indiana motel with a firearm. And the list goes on. The curious thing about all these cases is that they did not provoke any public or political reaction.

The death of Reggie Mabry, however, occurs in a context of deep concern about the shootings in the United States after a series of successive episodes that have left more than eighty fatalities – among them the 19 children of the Robb de Uvalde school ( Texas) – in just one month. Only this last weekend there have been ten deaths in Philadelphia, Chattanooga (Tennessee), Michigan and South Carolina. Social unrest and the avalanche of crimes have also generated among the defenders and opponents of the current sale of weapons to civilians a fracture of magnitude unknown until now despite the intense legislative debate that has existed since the Obama era or the continuous alerts from organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Center for the Prevention of Violence with Firearms or the different institutes that investigate deaths with pistols, shotguns and assault rifles.

All of this has once again highlighted the dimensions of a problem that annually causes bloodshed comparable to a civil war and that increasingly puts minors in the spotlight. And age matters. The researchers demand more reliable studies on the extent of deaths in the population under 18 years. The arms lobby is against any initiative of this type, aware that the pain of children and the special social sensitivity caused by deaths where children are involved can be one of its main weaknesses; the handhold that Democratic politicians and civil rights organizations can cling to in order to promote greater control of stockpiles and their care. “Reggie and Marie’s children have not only effectively lost both parents, as she will be jailed, but the child who accidentally fired the shot will have to grow up knowing his actions caused his father’s death,” the Police Department said. of Florida on Orlando crime.

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The disparity in the statistics speaks volumes about the lack of depth in the study of this pandemic. A clear example is that, according to the US Administration, in 2014 74 children died from gunshots. However, the different institutes on armed violence detailed a minimum of 113 cases clearly linked to the easy access of minors to the weapons of their parents, uncles or grandparents. Between 2016 and the first months of 2017, 326 deaths were recorded. The Government has improved the precision of its studies in the last five years and a half.

Apart from increasing controls and stopping the sale of weapons considered to be war weapons, one of the open debates in the Senate is precisely about finding out what happens to American families who keep arsenals in their homes. It satisfies the arms lobby, but experts and psychologists are concerned about the decline in the age at which parents introduce their children to the culture of the trigger. A few days ago, thousands of children and adolescents with their families could be seen at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston, the same week that the Uvalde massacre took place, visiting exhibitors full of ammunition, revolvers and rifles. They cannot consume alcohol, but they can calibrate the weight of a shotgun in their hands.

The data invites chills and explains why a two-year-old child can become an accidental gunman: more than 22 million children under the age of 18 live in homes where there is at least one firearm. The Academy of Pediatrics advises that they be locked, unloaded and with the ammunition stored elsewhere in the house. However, only four out of ten families comply with these safety precepts. The rest, for the most part, admit that they have one or more weapons scattered around the home with the ammunition loaded and ready to be used. And an appreciable percentage recognizes that they leave them in very accessible places, in drawers, cabinets or bedside tables, because it gives them a greater sense of security and tranquility. Although almost a baby can pull the trigger.

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