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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ideology Today

posted by on November 11 at 11:09 AM

What is missing from this picture?

An 8-year-old Arizona boy charged with premeditated murder in the deaths of his father and another man shot each victim at least four times with a .22-caliber rifle, methodically stopping and reloading as he killed them execution style, prosecutors said Monday.

Although investigators initially said they thought the boy might have suffered severe physical or sexual trauma, they have found no evidence of abuse, said Roy Melnick, the police chief in St. Johns, Ariz., where the shootings occurred. Psychologists say such abuse is often a factor in the extremely rare instances in which a small child murders a parent.

An investigation found no evidence that the boy had had disciplinary problems at school or shown signs that he was troubled, Chief Melnick said. “That’s what makes this case somewhat puzzling,” he said, adding that the court had ordered a psychological evaluation for the boy. “Our goal is to get him some help.”

…Prosecutors said the murder weapon was a single-action .22-caliber hunting rifle that requires reloading before each shot. “He had to eject the shell from the rifle and put in a new shell each time he fired,” Mr. Carlyon said.

This is missing:

FLAGSTAFF, Arizona (AP) — A man who police believe was shot and killed by his 8-year-old son had consulted a Roman Catholic priest about whether the boy should have a gun and had taught him how to use firearms, the clergyman said.
The Very Rev. John Paul Sauter said Vincent Romero consulted him on whether his son should have a gun.

The Very Rev. John Paul Sauter said Vincent Romero consulted him on whether his son should have a gun.

The Very Rev. John Paul Sauter said the man, Vincent Romero, 29, wanted his son to learn how to hunt, but the boy’s stepmother, Tiffany, suggested that he have a BB gun.

Police say the boy used a 22.-caliber rifle Wednesday to kill his father and another man, Timothy Romans, 39, of San Carlos.

Romero was an avid hunter who taught his son how to use a rifle to kill prairie dogs, said Sauter, of St. Johns Catholic Church.

“He wanted to make sure the kid wasn’t afraid of guns, knew how to handle it,” the priest said. “He was just too young. … That child, I don’t think he knows what he did, and it was brutal.”

Minus the Very Reverend chap (that’s a whole other issue) and we see the truth that is missing in the NYT report: A boy of 8 was taught how to kill. Yet that is not is recognized or mentioned as the problem—the normalization or domestication of gun use.

Leave out this fact—a boy was taught how to kill with a gun—and what you get is the mystery and the bewilderingly mists of why an average kid with no history of bad behavior or abuse would murder two adults.

Two conclusions:
1) Teaching him how to shoot a gun was the abuse!
2) The dead father, and not the boy, should be in jail because he committed his own murder and the murder of his friend.

RSS icon Comments


The kid had to reload each time he shot. How could that first shot(s) not wake up the second guy in time to disarm an 8 year old?

Posted by Clint | November 11, 2008 11:20 AM

Democratic leaders in the U.S. House discuss confiscating 401(k)s, IRAs

Investment Industry’s Suicidal Self-Interest

Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs)

Posted by Write Story | November 11, 2008 11:20 AM

@Charles: Girl, you crazy.

Posted by Greg | November 11, 2008 11:21 AM

Oh for crissakes. A hunting rifle does not a double murderer make. This kid has problems beyond knowing how to use a gun. Seriously, there's no need to go off the deep end with reactionary douchery.

Posted by Foggen | November 11, 2008 11:22 AM

Oh Charles, I adore you. But you know this will attract a hundred frothing gun nuts, don't you?

Posted by Reverse Polarity | November 11, 2008 11:26 AM

there is something just a liiiiiiiiiiitle bit fucked up about teaching an 8 year-old how to fire a hunting rifle. i certainly wouldn't blame the father for his own death, but an 8 year-old has no business handling a lethal firearm.

Posted by brandon | November 11, 2008 11:31 AM

I disagree with both of your conclusions and offer my own:

Teaching a boy how to shoot a gun and teaching a boy when to shoot a gun are two separate but equally important parts of gun education. It would appear that the latter was absent in this case.

Posted by Hernandez | November 11, 2008 11:36 AM


Get out of here. A single crackpot testifying before a Congressional committee is indicative of nothing.

Posted by keshmeshi | November 11, 2008 11:38 AM

I'm far from pro-gun, but I think that is an extremely absurd conclusion. Lots of kids that age have been taught to use a gun for hunting, and we're far from having a rash of parent-murders. The kid wasn't three, he was plenty old enough to understand death and violence. Far too old to nonchalantly shoot two people multiple times. He clearly had severe emotional problems. Should his dad perhaps have been aware that his kid had problems and maybe that was a good reason NOT to give him a gun? Probably. But lots not overgeneralize here.

Posted by Christy O | November 11, 2008 11:38 AM

I saw this article the other day and couldn't help but think that it was an interesting companion to the story that was posted last week about another 8 year old who shot himself to death with an Uzi.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | November 11, 2008 11:41 AM

I was taught how to shoot a hunting rifle when I was eight. I don't believe I then decided to murder my father and another man. Let's wait for they psych evaluation to come back before we jump to conclusions.

Posted by Jesse | November 11, 2008 11:41 AM

Teaching an 8 year old to kill might sound fucked up, but it is perfectly standard practice among your gun loving types. It is, however, absurd to argue that anyone could have taught this child to consistently make correct moral judgments, or to fully understand what killing means.

The rampant firearms "accidents" among those who teach children to kill are all the proof you need. Yes, lots of kids are taught to hunt. But this causes lots of them to be killed, or to kill someone.

The real question is, how irrationally, emotionally invested in gun culture do must you be, to be in denial of these facts?

Posted by elenchos | November 11, 2008 11:45 AM

My mother taught me how to shoot, with what sounds like the very same kind of .22, when I was six years old. I liked to shoot but had no desire to shoot any living thing, let alone a human.

The difference seemed to be that I did not have access to "my gun" without my mother unlocking the gun cabinet and handing it to me when we were outside.

This kid was fucked up! The gun did not fuck him up.

Posted by elswinger | November 11, 2008 11:45 AM

I swear to you all that I'm no gun nut, but my grandfather had a farm and I was around a lot of guns growing up. A 0.22 rifle isn't a hunting gun. It's used for "plinking" bottles and cans though the high end types are used for competition target shooting. For small game you are going to eat you want a shot gun with little tiny pellets. You want to keep the meat intact. And a .22 riffle makes just about as much noise as a BB gun.

The world has certainly changed. My father was on the rifle team in high school and rode the public bus everyday with his .22 rifle over his shoulder.

And it's only by virtue of our modern industry that's polluting the planet that we have the luxury of forgetting that to live is to kill. To teach a child to kill is no different than teaching him what it really means to live. Had he been taught how to prepare and cook meat would that have been abuse?

Posted by youth pastor | November 11, 2008 11:46 AM

Seriously... I grew up in the country where it was perfectly normal to start gun education young and no one I know from childhood has killed anyone.

Historically, (male) children have been trained to hunt from a very young age. There's something else going on here.

Posted by Dawgson | November 11, 2008 11:53 AM

@14 you are wrong. a .22 is the perfect small game firearm because the shotgun leaves lots of shot in the meat. with the 22 you go for a head shot.

i am by no means a gun nut either but i hunt (mostly large game with a bow). and i was hunting with my grandfather at the age of 3. granted as someone mentioned above i didnt have access to my guns when we were home.

Posted by mickey in Ar | November 11, 2008 12:00 PM

@16 you're a better shot than I. The one time I shot a living thing with a .22 there wasn't enough left to eat so I switched to a .410. But that was all a long time ago. I was out of work and hunting for food.

Posted by youth pastor | November 11, 2008 12:15 PM

AAAAAND there's the elenchos we all know. SCREEEEED!!!

Ok, what was the situation when the killing took place? Who was this other guy? Did the kid see this other guy doing something to another kid? We don't know. What we do know is that the gun did not magically take over the kid's psyche and command him to off his dad. Do bicycles make children let them go into a busy intersection, making cars swerve and crash? I was shooting .22s as well when I was younger than 10, and SURPRISE!, I have still never killed anyone. So if the inanimate object are clearly in command of humans, do baseballs and rocks make children throw them through windows?

Posted by P to the J | November 11, 2008 12:16 PM

I was taught how to shoot guns starting about the same age, first air rifles, then real ones.

Funny how I didn't murder anyone.

Posted by Trouble | November 11, 2008 12:19 PM

You highlight the "trained to kill" paragraph, but skipped over the preceding paragraph which is likely more important:

"In children as young as 8, parts of the brain that weigh decisions and consequences are so underdeveloped that a child might not understand the finality of death."

Posted by doctiloquus | November 11, 2008 12:20 PM

Yeah, I learned how to shoot a .22 when I was probably 9 or 10. And, I had my own BB gun. No, I haven't killed anyone. We always had adult supervision and there were never guns in our home. At the age of 8, though, no child should be let loose with any kind of gun without parental supervision. This is just weird.

Posted by Lindsey | November 11, 2008 12:21 PM

Excellent post. Artfully constructed and presented.

Posted by Elizabeth | November 11, 2008 12:24 PM

@2: I.E. Wonderful propaganda that misappropriates facts to make a biased point about reality?

Posted by Dawgson | November 11, 2008 12:28 PM

Children are much more likely to be hurt by firearms in the home if they're not trained on proper use. If your going to keep guns at home, I think the dad made the right choice. The child wasn't trained on how to kill a human, so you're conclusion is incorrect.

Also, two men couldn't disarm a .22 from an 8 year old? Kid must'a been a great shot, a .22 usually isn't good for much but target practice.

Posted by Dougsf | November 11, 2008 12:45 PM

Damn Charles. You have an annoying habit of cherry picking information to support your "conclusions" -- you are doing it backwards.

Read the whole NYT article where it gives the chances of having a child kill his parents in this fashion are almost impossible to figure out (in 29 years only 2 young children nationwide were investigated for killing their parents, etc).

Your arguments are so often slapped together from pieces made to order for your preconceived ideas......

Posted by Hartiepie | November 11, 2008 12:56 PM

OK people, quick question, and it's an easy one. Regardless of your position in regards to gun control, would this kid have been able to kill to people without easy access to a gun?

Probably not. So yes the gun empowered this kid to commit these murders. Sans gun you have a violent tantrum and should the kid get a hold of knife or some other weapon that requires a little muscle behind it, a potentially nasty wound or two- but a double murder, not likely.

Does teaching a kid to kill animals create a people-murderer? Absolutely not. But giving a kid a gun creates the potential for murder and/or deadly accidents. Whether you like it or not, that's reality. Guns do kill people and in the instance where children are involved, create a serious risk where one (at least this one in particular) did not exist before.

I guess what I am saying here is this, idiot parents, don’t give your kid a gun. Or, when you get shot in the face, don’t expect my sympathy.

Posted by Windupbird | November 11, 2008 1:03 PM

Teaching a kid to shoot a gun doesn't equate with teaching them to kill someone. Not scaring the shit out of said kid with the possible consequences of gun misuse or locking up guns far away from children does, however, greatly increase your chances of your kid killing someone, maybe even you.

Posted by Lara | November 11, 2008 1:09 PM

#26 - but as #25 pointed out, the chances of this scenario ever playing out are 300,000,000 to 1, so it would be impossible to ever predict this outcome.

This isn't like the story of the dad and child with the uzzi at the driving range, that's closer to "it'd be real cute to see if this bear will lick my kid's hand" type shit.

Posted by Dougsf | November 11, 2008 1:19 PM

@28 I am not arguing the odds here. I am simply stating that guns make killing anything, people included, way easier and kids are not as in-control of their actions as adults. I'm not advocating legislation or any state-involved bullshit. I am simply stating the fact that the gun, in this instance, empowered a child to commit murder. Whether or not you could have predicted the child would, is a completely different question. I am glad there is very little precedent of this occurring but that doesn't mean the gun wasn't a major contributor to actualizing this situation.
To prove my point, had the kid in this situation been wielding a razor sharp samurai sword would anyone be advocating that giving your child easy access to a razor sharp samurai sword isn't a recipe for trouble?

Posted by Windupbird | November 11, 2008 1:31 PM

@29 - I know, I wasn't jumping on you, I just don't blame the dad. Well, I don't know the whole story, many he= was a shitty gun safety teacher?

What I mean to say is: although the gun was the instrument used in the killing (but seriously, an 8 year old killing a man with a .22 is a FREAK thing, a less than great shot could pump a few rounds into a grown man and still be disarmed by the victim), otherwise the scenario wasn't at all out of the norm.

Posted by Dougsf | November 11, 2008 1:47 PM

WTF did prarie dogs do to deserve being shot by an 8 year old being taught to kill? did they EAT the prarie dogs? was it prarie dog season? and yes, i know shooting prarie dogs is common redneck fun.

being taught to kill without eating your prey - that's the abuse.

Posted by max solomon | November 11, 2008 2:04 PM

Keep it up, Charles. You're doing great!

Posted by charles' cheerleader | November 11, 2008 2:14 PM

I have more questions. . .
I read that the boy had just returned from a visit with his real Mom.

Being a very young child of divorce myself, I was often told by my Mom that I always had a changed attitude when I returned from my visits with Dad. And it was not a good attitude.

Could his Mom have had some impact on him causing him some kind of anger toward his father and the room mate? Could his Dad and room mate said something bad about his Mom?

My Dad was extremely bitter and verbally abusive. He ran my Mom into the ground telling me horrible things and calling her horrible names on my weekend with him. When I was young I had no clue I was a total brat upon my return to Mom. Being older and looking back I can see it.

Also, in today’s world the kids are bombarded with violent video games, movies and TV shows. Could that play any role in his desensitization?

I too was raised on a farm over 300 acres and grew up hunting and shootin’ skeet. We had every kind of gun; shot guns, rifles and hand guns. Guns in every closet, under beds, in the kitchen pantry and a gun rack in the truck. Everyone in my family did. No one ever had any kind of accident or an urge to kill people.

There has to be more to it with the boy. I’d say the evaluation should turn up the truth. I will not be surprised if it has something to do with the divorce of his parents.

Posted by irl | November 11, 2008 2:23 PM

What ever happened to crazy? Did we erase crazy from the dictionary?


Posted by ams | November 11, 2008 3:05 PM

That last sentence was supposed to pay homage to Chris Rock. Whoops.

Posted by ams | November 11, 2008 4:10 PM

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