On the Tragic Death of Bradley A. Hammer

I read with a mixture of sadness and anger that Allen Township resident Bradley A. Hammer died in a shooting accident Monday. The incident occurred while Hammer was "teaching his son how to shoot when the .22-caliber rifle discharged," according to the Toledo Blade.

This is of course an unbelievable tragedy for the Hammer family, but I have to ask the question: what the hell was Bradley Hammer thinking when he came upon the dubious idea of placing a loaded rifle in the hands of his 7-year-old son?

Now, I am a firm supporter of the Second Amendment, and I understand that in rural Ohio folks place a high degree of cultural importance to the skills associated with gun ownership. However, I find ludicrous the idea that a 7-year-old child should have a need to begin using lethal firearms.

Talking to your child about gun safety? Sure. Demonstrating how a weapon operates and building a healthy respect for firearms? I'm all for it. But handing over a loaded weapon to a small child? Utterly irresponsible, and in this case, deadly.

Now the family is without a husband and father, and now Hammer's 7-year-old son gets to carry around a lifetime of guilt knowing that he killed his own father. I do not know the model of .22-caliber rifle that was used, but I have to think that the rifle was about as long as the child is tall. In addition, no one can convince me that a 7-year-old is anywhere near mature enough to be wielding a deadly weapon, even with parental supervision, though I suppose there are plenty of people who would disagree. Yet a better question is whether Bradley Hammer was qualified to teach his child to properly handle a weapon, and based upon the fatal outcome, my suspicion is that the answer to this question is an emphatic "no."

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