COMMENTARY | A third-grader faces criminal charges for accidentally shooting 8-year-old Amina Kocer-Bowman, a fellow student at Armin Jahr Elementary School in Bremerton, Wash. His dad, Jason Cochran said the boy "made a mistake," reports AP. The court is trying to decide if the child understood what he was doing. Once again, two children's lives are disfigured by the foolish choices of adults. It's a wake-up call about parenting, kids and guns.
This story is a train wreck from the get-go. Mom and dad both have criminal track records. Neither one is a fit parent (uncle is the legal guardian). Mom is suing dad and has meth, paraphernalia and marijuana charges against her. Did I mention that he got the gun from her house? Methamphetamine addiction and firearms: there's a recipe for disaster.
It's no surprise, either: Kids who live in homes with guns are much more likely to hurt others and themselves with guns, says the University of Michigan. I know, I know--second amendment rights, teach kids gun safety (the ultimate oxymoron) and all that rhetoric about "guns don't kill, people do." Well, this .45 shot and almost killed without the boy intending it to, so that argument is a washout.
Evidently, the boy stashed the gun in his backpack intending to run away. As per the authorities, the gun went off accidentally when he dropped his backpack (forgetting that it contain a weapon). Sad that he had access a firearm and no clue that it could go off that easily. Sad that home was so bad and adults so dangerous that he felt the need to arm himself against life.
Reading about him sitting in his little orange jail suit (do they even come is sizes that small?), shaking, crying, terrified, makes me sick with grief and anger. Uncle Patrick Cochran says, his nephew is "a good kid." Of course he is; more importantly he's a kid. Seeing classmates frightened and sobbing brings out the teacher-mother-bear in me.
Happily, Little Amina is rallying and cheerful, says KSDK (a testament to childhood resilience). Kids are really very lovely people. It's us adults who need to get our collective act together. How many more kids' lives need to be ruined before we wake up to the fact that our dangerous choices are loose cannon? ; It's time we quit using children as fodder.