Saturday, 4 May 2013


I’ve spent part of this afternoon running round a park, hiding behind various obstacles and then jumping out and “shooting” my grandson. (We also played football and I pushed children on swings.) My gun was my right hand, two fingers making the barrel. He shot me with a similar weapon. This is not my favourite game but it involved a lot of running around and, anyway, children have always played shooting games of this kind: cowboys and Indians, Robin Hood, William Tell, Germans and English in my childhood when you still saw lots of war films on the TV. 

But over in Kentucky a little boy of five has been playing shooting with a real rifle, a child size rifle, called the “Cricket”: a real rifle with real bullets. In his game he shot and killed his two year old sister. Keystone Sporting Arms produce this weapon, marketed as “my first rifle” and sell it in bright colours. In 2008 they produced 60,000 weapons for children and young people. 

In this case, the child had received the gun as a present for his FOURTH birthday!! The parents kept the gun in one of the bedrooms of the house and didn’t know it was loaded. Surely you put such a “toy” out of reach of the child, only let him use it under adult supervision and when you put it away you make sure it’s not loaded. And since the child had been taught how to use the thing, you keep the bullets in a separate place so he can’t be responsible for what was described as “one of those crazy accidents”. 

Meanwhile at the annual convention of the National Rifle Association in Houston, Texas, which began yesterday, people have been busily looking at and presumably buying, more weapons. 

Here’s a photo of a 14 year old taking a look at a Bushmaster BA50 or it might be a Bushmaster AR-15. 

You can buy one of these for $700 apparently. 

It was a gun like this that killed 26 people in Sandy Hook elementary school recently. 

One convention attender declared, “We need these guns to combat terrorists and protect ourselves”. 

Maybe my reaction is a little excessive but it seems to me that even if you feel the need to have a gun to protect your home and your many belongings from burglars, you don’t really need an assault rife, a weapon of war, for goodness sake. What kind of burglars do they have in the USA? 

And surely, in the event of a terrorist attack of some kind, the forces of law and order are not really going to be helped very much by your average Joe Public running round with a great big gun shooting umpteen rounds a minute at anyone he thinks is a terrorist. 

But, hey, what do I know? My children will tell you that they had to resort to making guns out of stickle bricks because I wouldn’t even buy cap guns. They thought themselves lucky to have water pistols in the summer time, I can tell you. 


  1. Stickle bricks - construction toy popular in the 198os. Lumps of plastic that stuck together with the idea of making houses, cars or, in the case our our deprived offspring, guns.