Thursday, August 28, 2014


There are so many things I want to talk about but what keeps coming up for me today is the little girl in Arizona who accidentally shot and killed the gun instructor with an Uzi.

I once had the opportunity to shoot an M4 machine gun on a DEA range a bit north of Los Angeles.  I was working with the DEA doing research for a TV series and I really wanted to see what it was like to shoot an automatic weapon.  If you're going to write about violence you should know how it feels.  The SWAT team was qualifying that day so they were all out there in full body armor which turned out to be a good thing.  I was instructed on how to hold the gun, and advised how to brace my feet, and told to shoot at the target in front of a dirt cliff.  Then everyone took a lot of steps back.  When I pulled that trigger the fire power on the gun pulled my arm straight up in the air.  I had zero control and the blazing hot shell casings bounced off the metal rim around the target and flew back and hit me and my instructor.  Dirt and dust rained down from the dirt wall where the bullets had tracked straight up leaving a gaping vertical scar channeling 15' high.  After I caught my breath I set the gun down on the ground and stepped away from it.  I had wet my pants a little bit.

Automatic weapons are not guns as I know and understand them.  They are not for hunting.  They are not for competing at skeet or target shooting.  They are for tearing up human bodies when fighting a war.

This little girl is so much on my mind and in my thoughts.  I truly hope that she will be okay as this is a tragedy that will reverberate through her life forever.  At nine she cannot even really fathom what death is much less that she accidentally caused of the death of another person.  That's one of those wounds that is going to deepen as she grows up and gains experience in life.

Everyone says, "it's not the little girl's fault," and I doubt there's anyone who would say that it was, but she was still holding the gun that the bullets came out of and was standing there looking at a human being with holes in him who died from the bullets that came out of the gun that she was holding.

Do you think she's going to parse that out and consider that her parents put the gun in her hand?  That the man who died put himself in harm's way?  That's all such an intellectual perspective on what happened.

If I ran over someone who ran in front of my car I would never be the same.  Ending someone's life is fucking heavy.

I wonder if she will ever not think about it?  Will it color every event in her life from this point forward?  When she graduates from high school will she think about the children whose father won't make it to their graduation?  When she gets married will she think about the woman whose husband was killed that day the Uzi was placed in her hands?  When she has children will she think about how he left his babies?

Because of the internet she's always going to be infamous.

That is the icky kind of famous.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Charles Vacca who tragically lost someone they loved.

My heart goes out to this little girl and her family - because this is something they will be dealing with forever.

They blew it by putting the gun in her hand.  I hope they don't continue to blow it and get her proper help and support so that she can understand that though she was the one who technically caused the death - it was not her fault.

Good luck with that.