Saturday May 4, 2013

Parents wondering if they should keep toy guys out of the hands of their children so as not to desensitize them to violence must have been more stunned than anyone by the incident in Kentucky Wednesday when a 5-year-old boy shot his 2-year-old-sister to death with a real gun designed to look like a toy. The guns-for-everyone lobby grows increasingly strident with every gun death, and it will be a challenge to rationalize away a tragedy that epitomizes firearm stupidity.

The gun was manufactured by a Pennsylvania company that specializes in making guns for kids -- "My first rifle" is its slogan -- and they come in candy colors. While this sounds like a satiric comedy sketch about our gun culture it is in fact reality, a reality that turned horrific when 5-year-old Kristian Sparks used his first rifle to put a fatal bullet into the chest of his sister, Caroline.

The Second Amendment begins with the words "A well-regulated Militia ... ," which tells us that our Founding Fathers realized guns should be regulated, but a simple attempt at regulating them through background checks failed to get through a Senate filibuster last month. Regulating little rifles so boys can’t kill their little sisters would surely meet the same fate. (It’s unlikely that Kristian would meet our founders’ definition of a militia member.)

In the long fight for better, stronger federal gun regulation, the majority of Americans who support it have logic on their side, a powerful ally. Foes offer fear, paranoia and misinformation, but while that is a formidable combination it is nonetheless an increasing challenge to defend the indefensible -- from Newtown to Kentucky’s "my first rifle" slaying.