My son Darren was recently shot in the eye area of his face with a BB gun. The shooter was a 9-year-old child who has had numerous violent encounters in the past weeks.
This child shot a person the day prior to my son being shot, and also stabbed another person. The police said the older child who accompanies this younger child was arrested the day before, and the BB gun was confiscated. But this child had another gun the next day, so police were a little puzzled as to how they were getting the BB guns.
To make a long story short, later that same night, after my son had been shot, I spoke to a few of the children who hang out with the child shooter. I learned that the children are stealing the BB guns from Wal-Marts central location.
I immediately called Wal-Mart explaining my experience with them. I witnessed the children and also called the police and made a report on the non-emergency number while this was happening.
The manager I spoke with said I was singling out this store. Well, lets see, I went to the store and, with witnesses, was able to pull BB guns and ammunition off the shelf.
I would think after calling and speaking to the company and after a woman a couple years ago died in the store on Riverside with circumstances due to open ammunition, Wal-Mart would put all guns of any sort and ammunition in a cased display unit.
So, yes, I never really paid any attention to this department of the store. But the children have.
My thing is thisI enjoy Wal-Mart stores and shop there daily, but I have seen this with my own eyes, so if we make it public, we can get some help and support putting these guns in a safer display.
Lets face it, you cant go in the electronic or the jewelry section of the store and touch anything, but a 9-year-old child can go remove a gun and ammunition off the shelf? Wheres the value in this situation? Its OK for Wal-Mart to case up the games, but leave firearms out? Come on!
What really hurts is the manager said no lives were lost, so whats the worry? The children in this neighborhood use these guns to shoot target practice and play with like toys.
So, before a life is lost, can we get some help? Please, I am in no way passing the blame solely on Wal-Mart. These childrens parents need to be held responsible, too, because I witnessed these children shooting at each other like these guns are toys.
Can you help? If you can, please e-mail me at email@example.com.
Baseemah Dear-Townsend is a Rockford resident.
From the July 6-12, 2005, issue