Idiots come in all shapes and sizes but when they play with guns the results can be especially deadly and here in the South we seem full of them. Growing up in the rural South I was exposed to rifles, shotguns, and pistols at a young age and quickly learned that they were never to be considered toys. My grandfather for whom as a child had to hunt for his food was the one who instructed me on the safe and proper use of any weapon that I might have a chance to try. From the very beginning when I was just shooting a simple BB-gun he would make it very clear that whenever the weapon was loaded I was to have it pointed toward whatever target we were using because for him safety was the number one concern.
Any horse play with even an unloaded weapon would quickly result in it being taken away and a spanking if my behavior even came close to endangering another person. While serving in the army I would often chuckle at the sergeants running the various weapon ranges because the tone they carried and the extent they went to assure that no one would get hurt sounded so much like my grandfather.
Because of this weapons to me do not really hold the glamour that many civilians seem to endow in them. Sure, I occasionally enjoy watching some show on the Military Channel showing off the latest development in weapons but such shows quickly lose my interest after the basics are revealed. Heaven forbid I possibly sound elitist but I'm far more interested in things that lead to constructive and beneficial developments to the country and world.
But for many civilians weapons hold a glamour that I frankly find disturbing at times. Wannabe Rambos and War Geeks who never served look to their collection of rifles and pistols as the defining items of their manhood. They boast of what would happen to some stupid criminal that had the temerity to break into their homes. It isn't hard to get such people to delve into their darker, surreal fantasies of the federal Bogeyman out to take their weapons and what they would do to oppose such actions.
Most of these people are full of bluster and hot air but it would be a drastic mistake to not understand that there are many hardcore types for which the words: "they will get my guns when they pry my cold, dead fingers from them" is a brutal honesty. These people have that insane gleam in their eyes that I'm sure has excused a whole manner of atrocities all across the world all in the name of God, gold, or some greater abstract glory.
While it might seem strange for me to write the most terrifying of those in "love" with their weapons are those for who never learned that no rifle, shotgun, or pistol is a toy. The best, and least destructive, example I know of this happened in the late 1980's. During this time my grandfather had retired and had taken a part-time job as a security guard at one of the gated condo communities close to the beach. His job was simple, just wave the residents whose car had a sticker attached to the windshield through and stop those who didn't. It wasn't long before he was joined by a young guy who had once been employed as a police officer by one of the nearby small towns. This fella while on duty one night had taken to twirling his pistol like a cowboy before inserting it back into his holster in a snappy motion. Sometime that night while continuing to act like Roy Rogers this sad excuse for a cop shot a co-worker while twirling his weapon. The other guy was okay, it was only a minor leg wound, but the shooter soon found himself beside my granddad waving rich, Jaguar driving guys through the gates to see their mistresses.
Given how my granddad viewed being careful with any firearm he could not stand the guy who even then all he could talk about was his collection of guns in his trailer back home. While the shooter, and the guy he accidentally shot, got off lucky others have had far more tragic outcomes. I may be accused of being heartless when I like idiots with guns prove the Darwinian effect and cull the shallow end of the human gene pool. However, such people all too often don't solve the problem of their problematic existence but instead hurt the innocent.
A four-year-old boy has been killed by a falling bullet that was fired into the air during New Year's Eve celebrations in the US.
Marquel Peters was playing a video game inside a church in the state of Georgia when the bullet pierced the roof and hit him in the head, local media reported.
He collapsed on the floor alongside his parents, bleeding, and was taken to hospital where he died.
"I saw his Nintendo game fall on the floor, and I heard a sound and I heard him scream a little bit and I looked around and all I saw was blood coming from his head," Marquel's mother Nathalee Peters told a local TV station."
"He was my only child ... I miss him, I loved him, he was so sweet," she told Sky News.
Ballistics experts told local media the bullet had most likely come from an AK-47 assault rifle, and may have been fired into the air up to five kilometres from the church.
Police believed the shooter may be unaware someone had been hurt by their bullet.
Marquel's family planned to return to the church - where they were regulars - for his funeral, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"I'm a faith believer, but it's just hard," his uncle Garry Peters said. "Why at church?"
According to the Journal-Constitution, the 350 people gathered inside heard a "loud pop" when the bullet pierced the roof .
"No one knew what it was," Mr Peters said.
After Marquel was taken to hospital, the congregation said a brief prayer for him before continuing with a planned concert, not realising his injuries were life-threatening, senior pastor Lloyd Phipps told the paper.
Soon after Marquel died, a six-year-old Italian boy was also shot by a stray bullet in Miami.
Andrea Fregonese was celebrating New Year's Eve with his family - only hours after authorities had urged people not to fire their guns in the air in celebration - when he was shot in the chest, apparently by a falling bullet.
His family were sitting at an outside restaurant at the time.
The mayor of Miami Tomas Regalado arranged for toys to be brought to Andrea at hospital, where he was in a serious but stable condition, to show "that we care and that we're sorry".