You might think this one's about gun control, but while I'm sick to death of dumb and demented right wing groups who seem to think they'd somehow be able to Defend America from 'invaders' who'd have air supremacy plus nuclear, chemical, bacteriological and cyberweapons or depose their own 'tyrannical' government (read just how well that worked out in Operation American Broken Spring); left speechless by the outright idiocy of the NRA phrase "guns don't kill people, people kill people" (guns are designed to be used by people - that's why they have sights, stocks and triggers) and haven't got anything else to do except hang around waiting for the next high school massacre (I'll never forget being in Dunblane when the news about Sandy Hook started coming in), all I can really do is refer people to the usual statistics on gun violence or this excellent article re the impasse on the matter in the States.
So that's not why I'm writing about two city marshals in Marksville, Louisiana, who critically wounded Chris Few last Tuesday night and killed Jeremy David Mardis, his six-year-old son.
Marshals Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Junior have been charged with the second-degree murder of Jeremy Mardis and the attempted second-degree murder of his father. According to The Free Dictionary, "in several states [marshals are defined as] a law enforcement officer, similar to a sheriff or constable, who serves official documents and occasionally assists in police matters."
No one really seems to know why they shot at Few's SUV, but according to The New York Times, "the boy was struck several times in the head and chest."
It might seem like yet another example of the firearms lunacy we've all become far too familiar with, even blasé about (remember Dylann Roof and Christopher Harper-Mercer?), but I'd just like to mention one thing, not overlooked but neither especially concentrated upon:
Jeremy David Mardis was autistic, diagnosed at the age of two.
There's a few things I could say, like the low uptake of jobs by Aspergers in this brave new world Jeremy Mardis will now never see. I wonder, though, whether he, like me, would have found and fired up some fragile jewel of genius within his unique neurological wiring, and what his life might have been.
But his father's still in hospital and may not know his son has gone.
So because of a gun used in haste, we will never, ever know what Chris Few's son could have become.
James Christie is the author of Dear Miss Landau and The Legend of John Macnab. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism, at the age of 37 in 2002. He lives in the Scottish Borders.