So, some of you may have heard that earlier this week in a little town north of Baton Rouge, an elderly woman was shot in the head by an 8-year-old. There's not going to be any snark or nostalgia or anything in this particular essay. I'm playing this one seriously. I hate it when this sort of thing happens, but this is reality and accidents happen in reality. The last time I went on one of these reflections it was when that unbalanced kid I won't name shot up a theater of people that were excited to see the premier of that last Batman film.
It's an interesting synergy that being on this particular blog brings, having me commenting on it, as the major news websites reporting on this like Fox News and CNN all have plastered over their pages the gaming industry's biggest and most obvious target: Grand Theft Auto. Whenever there's a high-profile shooting these days, two groups are blamed. Gun owners and video games. To all the gunnies out there: I've got a dog in this race the same as you, and it sucks. I'm not a gunnie myself (yet, as Erin is fond of saying), but I understand and support the right to bear arms. Responsible gun ownership is sort of a hallmark of the American way of life, and I can't not respect that.
They key word there being responsibility. I balked a little bit at first when I read "87 year old woman is the caretaker of the 8 year old child" but I've known some pretty spry octogenarians in my time. The second thing that hit me was that the kid had been playing on his "Play Station III" (it's a PlayStation 3, guys) the game Grand Theft Auto IV, which they claim "awards points to players for killing people." Points. Right. The game sends escalatingly larger groups of cops, swat, and Military at you until it manages to kill you if you open fire on civilians. Fox News had the good grace to mention the game was rated M for Mature, which means that the developers didn't intend the game to be played by people younger than 17, let alone an 8 year old. Responsibility.
The second thing I noticed was that the kid came up behind the old woman and shot her in the back of the head while she was watching television. How, in the case of a responsible gun owner, did the kid have access to the gun? I know gun owners. If kids are anywhere around, those guns are usually unloaded and locked up. A safe, a cabinet, hell, even a locked door to another room. Something! Responsibility.
One news source even said the shooting was intentional. I think that bothered me the most. I've been an 8 year old boy. Everything from a ruler to a coat-hanger was a gun upon picking it up until shortly after it was dropped and forgotten. I've fired off probably as many imaginary rounds at friends and family as I have in actual games. Now this kid gets to grow up even more messed up in the head than he otherwise would have been because he was playing a game he was too young to know better and somebody didn't lock up the sidearm. Responsibility.
This was not a case of "those evil video games made this impressionable kid shoot his gran with that evil gun." This is a case of why the hell was this kid playing a game he was too young to play and who the hell left the gun where he could get it. And why the hell isn't the news bothering to ask those questions. This is the sort of intersectionality that makes your social justice warriors count their lucky stars, but it just makes me feel a little bit tired.
Author's note: I strongly considered postponing this one, given yesterday's events on the blog, but I feel strongly that this topic might be important to anyone here. That said: Erin's been a dear friend of mine for years now, and to me she is, and always has been, a true lady. She has supported me through some dark times in my life, and I will continue to stand by her. It warms my bitter, jaded heart to see such support for a good friend. You may now cease being gloomy and continue the festivities!