I hear you, Charles Pierce:
I realize that I am just a pointy-headed liberal elitist who doesn't understand the importance of guns to some of my fellow citizens, but even I know that "Is this thing loaded?" is an important question to teach your five-year old when you give him his first firearm on the day he accepts Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior and Wayne LaPierre as his personal spokesman.
Nobody in this story is ever going to be the same. I can't imagine the trauma the family's going through. The little girl is dead and the little boy is going to carry this moment to his grave. Luckily, though, there was a local official to explain it all to the visiting media.
"It's a normal way of life. I mean, folks – and it's not just rural Kentucky, it's rural America. I mean folks hunting and fishing, it's sports shooting – it's just a way of life. You know, you begin at an early age, learning to use and respect a gun," said Joe Phelps, Cumberland County Judge Executive, whose position has been described as similar to that of a local mayor.
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.