playground 2

Two girls, an Uzi, and a playground

BULLETS AND BURGERS.

That’s the name of the gun range (and burger joint) where firearms instructor Charles Vacca handed a 9-year-old girl an Uzi to shoot. When it was on manual, she had no problems handling the gun, which was originally designed for the Israeli army.

When he made the gun fully automatic, however, the gun was too much for the 9-year-old to handle and she accidentally shot Vacco to death.

Her parents, who had taken her to Bullets and Burgers as part of their vacation from New Jersey, got to take her home.

One month earlier, Debra Harrell, a single mother from South Carolina, left her 9-year-old daughter in a park near the McDonalds where Harrell worked.

The results were vastly different.

The criminal injustice system

Harrell’s daughter had usually spent time using her computer at the McDonalds while her mother worked. But when the house was broken into and the computer stolen, Harrell’s daughter asked her mom if she could go to the park to play with the other kids while she worked. Her mom gave her a cell phone and the girl went out to play.

The child was fine for the first two days. But when an adult asked Harrell’s daughter where her mother was, and she responded with “at work,” the person called the police, the police declared the girl “abandoned,” and Harrell spent 17 days in jail. She was charged with felony child neglect, her child was temporarily taken away, and she still faces the prospect of spending 10 years in jail if she’s convicted.

While both of these stories are tragic, what stands out to me is how the law looked at both of these sets of parents.

One set of parents got to take their kid home and face no charges at all.

The other is looking at 10 years in jail.

That doesn’t make sense to me.

The truth about kids and guns

Now I understand that there are parents out there that want their kids to feel comfortable around firearms. I’ve lived in places where the first day of Hunting Season is a day off from school and everyone has an “I’m the NRA” sticker on their car. It’s your choice if you want to teach your kid how to be comfortable around a firearm.

But there is no universe that I’d ever want to visit where it makes sense to hand a 9-year-old an Uzi. I dated a guy who had one, and when he handed me that thing, I was terrified.

I was in my 20s.

Yet, the parents of the 9-year-old who accidentally killed her gun instructor with an Uzi got to take her home. And Harrell, who let her kid play in the park while she worked, had her child taken away.

If you’re rich enough to take your kid on a vacation that includes a trip to a shooting range to fire an Uzi, then you’re probably not all that worried about childcare.

But when you’re a single mom trying to support a child on a Shift Manager’s salary at McDonalds, childcare even at the lowest price is expensive because you need every dollar to keep a roof over your head and non-McDonalds food on the table.

Because of this, you’re forced to make choices that people may not understand, like letting your kid go out into a park to play while you work.

The disparity in how these two cases involving 9-year-old girls were handled makes me wonder if the message we’re sending as a country is that Harrell might not be looking at 10 years in jail had she chosen to take her child to a gun range instead of a park.

And if that is the message we’re sending, we’re in worse shape as a country than we might want to admit.


denise clay 2Denise Clay is a veteran journalist and adjunct professor. She is active in the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists.

 

Leave a Comment
placeholder_advertisement

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Subscribe for More

The look on this border agent’s face as he grabs this #Haitian migrant at the border says it all. I am so hurt to see Black people treated this way. It looks like a scene out of #Roots.
My son and I carrying on the tradition. We just watched the @philadelphiaeagles win the first game of the season 32-6. We bleed green. Eagles for life baby!
Setting up now for Hope 4 Philly. We have free groceries for the community. Enough for hundreds of people. We start at 11. It’s all at 1858 E. Washington Lane, Pennypacker School and it’s all free! @classixphilly @rnbphilly @gccphilly
Join me and @ClassixPhilly for Hope 4 Philly, on Saturday September 11th from 11a to 3p at Pennypacker School, 1858 E Washington Ln. Free groceries, kids cuts, school supplies, jobs, healthcare, gospel, hot dogs, cotton candy and more. It’s all brought to you by @gccupdate, Brown’s Family Shoprite, BRN, and more. ⁦
At Hershey Park and I think this woman Kelly Ann Conway, #Trump’s former liar in chief, walking around like she didn’t try to burn down America.
After a pandemic, floods and gun violence, Philly needs hope. Join us on 9/11 at Hope 4 Philly - 11a to 3p at Pennypacker School, 1858 E. Washington Ln. Free groceries, hot meals, cuts for kids, school supplies, jobs, healthcare, gospel ministry and yes, cotton candy. @onwurd
Hope 4 Philly is Sept. 11th from 11a to 3p at Pennypacker School, 1858 E. Washington Ln. Free groceries, hot meals, cuts for kids, school supplies, jobs, healthcare, gospel ministry and yes, cotton candy. After a pandemic, floods and gun violence, Philly needs hope. Join us on 9/11.
This is  #BlackLove. My wife and I on the beach in Negril, Jamaica.
Join us at @barbersonbroad at 1220 N. Broad St. w/ @gethealthyphilly and @classixphilly and get a free haircut from Noon to 2 pm as we help brothers defeat #hypertension in our community. Come through!!!
Tonight at 11 @Manupphl will be featured on @nbcphiladelphia Channel 10. Fighting #gunviolence a life at a time. Tune in!
Today after 7 years of featuring her sharp commentary on my shows I finally met ⁦‪@iamroxannejones‬⁩ in person. We broke bread (ok we ate everything but the bread) and plotted our takeover of the media universe. Lol! Great times! @onwurd
Having a ball hosting at #WawaWelcomeAmerica with @ClassixPhilly 107.9 at #Philly City Hall. #IDanceMinistry is killing it!
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments