Snow Cones and Trigger Pull

After my trip, I had a post scheduled, but instead wanted to comment on this hot-button story from California.

Hey Dad, mom took us to a cool event this evening. We got free hot dogs, balloons, and while mom was at the snow cone machine, I dry-fired an AR-15 rifle!

Young children attending a festival in Santa Rosa's South Park neighborhood Saturday were allowed to handle weapons used by the city's SWAT team, causing some to question the appropriateness of such a display at a family event promoting safe communities.

Photos taken at the event show a Santa Rosa police officer talking with a group of youths as a young boy holds a fully-automatic assault rifle while looking through its sniper scope. Another shows a boy perhaps as young as 5 years old grabbing the grip of a riot gun on a table covered with gear beside the city's SWAT command vehicle.

Photo Credit: Attila Nagy
The images, which were circulated by email among a group of concerned citizens, were forwarded to Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Marsha Vas Dupre, who said she was “alarmed and devastated” by the display and questioned the judgment shown by police.

Attila Nagy, who snapped the photos and circulated them, said he's in favor of community outreach by the police, but thinks they'd get a better response if they left their military-grade arsenal at home...

But police and event organizers defended the display as a successful community outreach effort that is in line with the department's efforts to demystify law enforcement generally and its SWAT team in particular.

“We encourage our cops to get out of the car and interact with the community,” Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm said...

I am surprised that the agency's legal advisor hasn't stopped this unique show-and-tell.

There is a good reason why DARE and other education-based officers do not bring caches of weapons to school as part of their curriculum--it is called liability.

Law enforcement agencies that choose to educate teens about firearms by letting them handle them should, at the least, have clearly gained parental consent.

I don't see parental approval being part of this traveling demonstration.

In addition, I would want to personally verify that the gun was unloaded before allowing my kiddos to take a look.

Because, you know, at least one law enforcement officer was sure he was demonstrating gun safety to students with an unloaded firearm--when, well, ouch.


Have a good weekend everyone.


The Blonde Duck said...

I live in Texas. This is pretty common.

Brian Miller said...

i can see why...they want to engage the kids...and with all the first person shooter games out there i am sure this was a draw...i agree on parental consent...

terri said...

I can't say this necessarily alarms me right off the bat. Not knowing the message of the presentation, it's hard to judge. I'd like to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that part of the demo included information about appropriate use of the weapons and how they are not for just anyone. And I don't think kids are naive about assault weaponry. The armed forces are very visible in this day and age, on the news and in movies and even in kids'shows.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

The photo definitely took me aback, but, like Terri, I don't want to immediately condemn it without knowing what the department's full presentation looked like. I certainly hope that it included a conversation about safe use of firearms. And, in general, it's nice to see law enforcement personnel interacting with the community ("demystifying" as the spokesperson said).

Definite food for thought. Thanks, Slam.

Lisa said...

This is disturbing on many levels. Isn't it possible for law enforcement to interact with the general population in any other way? On the other hand, younger kids were always taught how to shoot and care for guns in earlier times. Perhaps there isn't much difference now; except for the fact that those guns weren't fully-automatic assault rifles. There probably should be a line drawn somewhere.

James (SeattleDad) said...

This may be well intentioned, but it has BAD IDEA written all over it.

Hilary said...

I spent several years keeping toy weapons of all kinds out of my home when my sons were growing up. I couldn't see children emulating killing.

At 24, my older son has handled all sorts of weaponry in his military education. He handles them with care and respect and has never looked at guns as toys. I have to assume that your SWAT team would convey the weapons with the same sense of respect when talking with the kids.

Though, having been that parent, I would have indeed wanted to have had the option of consent.

Momma Fargo said...

They do that here, too. But, yes, I remember the AD from the other department which was national news. Yikes. Pretty oool for the kids, but the departments probably bank on their officer safety for the liability purposes. said...

Knowing that many parents don't know the first thing about firearms, I'd rather have the police showing them.

I really don't think this is too bad, as someone who was in "Shotgunner's Club" in high school. Yes, we shot shot guns out behind the school.

Kristin said...

I'm going to be in the minority here and say that I wouldn't be comfortable with my kiddo holding a gun...but that's just me.

ZaSu Says said...

I watched the case on InSession. It was a sad case. The ex police chief was found innocent. Bad all the way around. A very hard lesson. There won't be anymore of these kind of events in Mass. anymore.

I can't think of one good reason a young child should be shooting a micro Uzi

Gun show organizer found not guilty in boy's Uzi death

ZaSu Says said...

I should clarify the case I saw was not the one Slam Dunk posted about.

I agree liability and safety should always come first.