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May 23, 2011

Man Who Lost Son to Gun Violence Responds to Cruelty with Grace and Dignity

Recently, The Bay Citizen featured a wonderful article about gun violence survivor Griffin Dix. Tragically, Griffin lost his 15-year-old son Kenzo to gun violence in 1994 when his 14-year-old friend accidentally shot him. The boy invited Kenzo over to his house and was trying to show off his father's Beretta 92 Compact L handgun. He had removed the ammunition magazine, but wasn't aware a round was still in the chamber of the handgun. When he pulled the trigger a round fired and penetrated Kenzo's heart, killing him.

The article was upbeat, noting that, "Griffin has helped transform the dialogue about guns in California from being centered on Second Amendment rights, as it was 20 years ago, to one focused on personal tragedies and consequences."

Sadly, however, pro-gun activists have used the Comments area on the web version of the article to post unbelievably crude personal attacks against Griffin.

A pro-gun activist using the screen name "Tom P" initiated the attacks, telling Griffin:

I know it is not desirable in our society to attack victims, but I see so many things wrong with this situation that I have to do just that. As a parent, you have a responsibility to teach your children how to deal with dangerous situations, all of them. I'm guessing you're probably not a gun owner and never have been. Because your child was not around firearms in your household, you probably felt it was not neccessary to teach your son what to do should he ever encounter a firearm. That is pure and simple stupidity on your part ... It's your kind of simple minded thinking that causes these tragedies to occur. You cannot go through life ignoring facts just because you don't agree with them ... It saddens me to know that someone with your lack of depth of thought has been responsible for educating our young people. I'm thinking it's more likely than not that you're just another one of the thousands of 'educators' who pursued that career for the long vacations, decent pay and guaranteed pensions.

Tom P wasn't done though. He added, in a superfluous comment seemed designed to purely injure, this thought: "I see no sign that you take any responsibility for preparing your son for the dangers of this world. You need to get past your grief, own up to your own responsibility of not teaching your son and move on."

Next up was a pro-gun activist going by the screen name "W W." About Griffin, he commented, "He needs psychiatric help..He has become hoplophobic and concentric ... So Griffin Dix you failed as a father seek help and get over your grief...I feel for you...SEEK HELP."

Griffin's response to this, however, is what stands out the most. In the face of these vile attacks on himself and his son, he was both gracious and dignified, writing:

Thanks for the comments. In answer to a few who assumed that my son was playing with a gun, he was not. The friend he was visiting—without telling my son—went and got the gun which his father kept loaded and unlocked next to his bed for "protection." The boy thought he had unloaded the gun when he took out the loaded magazine. Then he walked back upstairs to the room where my son was, walked in and, as a childish joke, pulled the trigger. My son’s friend made a bad mistake; kids sometimes do that. They shouldn’t; but they do. If the gun had a prominent chamber-loaded indicator, the boy, when he had shot this gun with his father at the shooting range, would have seen the indicator pop up red right in front of his face whenever a bullet was put into the chamber and disappear when the round was fired. The boy would have been able to tell easily when a bullet still remained in the chamber. It is up to parents and the entire community of adults to see to it that the foreseeable mistakes of a kid do not result in a death. I am interested in preventing this kind of thing from happening ... The father of my son’s friend believed he had to store the gun loaded and unlocked because there was no other way to have the gun instantly available for use. But guns could be designed so that they can be stored safely and be available very quickly. However the gun industry resists these designs and keeps trying to put all of the blame on the gun owner (their customer) over and over and over every time. Of course the gun owner is at fault. But under the product liability laws of most states if there is foreseeable misuse of a product, the product must be designed to minimize the harm. Firearms sold to consumers could be more safely designed and still be available. This is not a "battle against guns" so much as a battle for better guns—more safely designed guns.

There's not a day that goes by that we at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) fail to be inspired by the courage and decency of gun violence survivors.

Griffin Dix is certainly one of them.

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