Monday 1 July 2013

Why is my pizza waitress teaching American kids how to use guns?

I didn’t feel like cooking dinner the other week so I went to pick up some pizza for the hubby and I, and while I was waiting for the naughty treat I got chatting to the lovely young waitress serving me. She was about 19, beautiful, bubbly, smart, and was studying hospitality. Oh, and last year she worked at an American camp teaching kids as young as six how to shoot rifles.

Yep that’s right, GUNS. I’ve never actually experienced anything close to falling off a chair from hearing or seeing something unbelievable, but I was pretty darn close (and almost took my sneaky glass of red with me).  Whaaaa?

Turns out she simply applied for a holiday job as a camp counsellor, they had a position available for a rifle instructor, and then wham bam thanks Uncle Sam, just like that she’s on a plane and over there getting a two week crash course in riflery – cos’ that’s what you do when you’ve never shot a gun before but are about to teach kids in another country how to. 

Kind of like how your junior school art teacher is one step ahead of you in making papier mache crafts – except we’re talking about GUNS.

I came home reeling from this chick’s story, busting to tell my husband who strangely wasn’t as shocked as me.

“But were they actually pellet guns? Because they’re used in a lot in sports and aren’t that dangerous.”

“No! She said rifles with real bullets.”

“Ok, but they weren’t handguns though, were they?”

No they weren’t, but does this make a difference? A gun is a gun in my books. If it can kill someone then what on earth are Americans doing giving them to kids at camps and having someone who is basically a child themselves (and inexperienced with firearms to boot), teaching them how to use them?

I know this is riflery as a sport – shooting targets, clay pigeons, that sort of thing – and I know this is a credible, skilled and highly respected activity. But should children as young as six, in a country where guns are such a huge problem, really be handling weapons (especially when their instructors are rookie teens)? Can’t they be introduced to the sport in another way when they’re much, much older, or...not at all?

I don’t need to quote the stats, we’ve all heard the insane figures around massacres, murders, suicides and accidental deaths that happen every year in the States as a result of guns. Obama is on to it. US celebrities are on the bandwagon. Here’s an idea, why don’t you start with removing guns from school camps and let the kids get back to singing Kumbaya?

My waitress acted like she understood the craziness of it, but somehow I don’t think she fully grasped the madness otherwise she wouldn’t have wound up there in the first place packing heat and planting high-fives. She informed me with wide eyes that the hairiest part of her job was making sure the children didn’t wave their guns around too much or accidentally point them at other people. AAAGH! As a parent myself this fills me with cold fear – for both the children at the camp and the instructors. Far too many things to go wrong.

And on another note, what if my pizza waitress had been an anti-US psycho waiting to get her mitts on a rifle to then unload on a bunch of unsuspecting American kids? (she wasn’t of course, but who’s to know that?) This ‘camp’ was sounding more like the start of some sick horror flick to me.

Apparently the children could also choose what activities they wanted to do at the camp. So if all they wanted to do was play dodgeball, or say SHOOT GUNS, day in day out for 9 weeks, then that’s what they could do. There’s some healthy, wholesome fun.

Ok I assume these children were outdoors getting a lot of fresh air, learning new skills, socially interacting, working on their concentration and accuracy, etc., but do they need to be holding real life, bullet wielding weapons?

When I asked my waitress what her own parents had thought about her holiday job she replied: “Horrified. But, my mother has spent a lot of time in America and knows what the gun culture is like. And it was ok cos’ no one died or anything while I was there.”

Ah that’s a relief. Sounds pretty safe then. Maybe I should sign up for one of these instructor jobs? A quick look on the google machine and you can find a bunch of different sites offering camp counsellor placements in riflery, no firearm experience necessary – too easy.

Yippee ki-yay motherf#cker!

Aussie teens teaching US kids riflery - is this nuts or am I nuts? Fire away

photo credit: CoboFoto via photopin cc

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