‘Responsible’ Gun Owner Threatens Boy For Practicing A Clarinet

Image courtesy of Reuters and Mesa Sheriff's Office

Image courtesy of Reuters and Mesa Sheriff’s Office

Yes, a school child practicing an instrument can be very annoying, especially if the child is practicing in his backyard which is within earshot of you, but you know what’s even more annoying? The fact that there are almost zero standards for who can and can’t own a gun in this country. Case in point? A Grand Junction, Colorado woman who was arrested on Thursday for threatening her clarinet playing 11-year-old neighbor.

Officers were called to an address in the Rocky Mountain city of Grand Junction after Cheryl Pifer allegedly told the boy, who was doing his music class homework for school, to “get his ass back inside,” the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office said.

According to an arrest affidavit, there were five other children aged one to eleven in the backyard at the time of Wednesday’s incident, and it said the boy’s grandmother told them all to return to the house.

“When they were coming inside they saw Cheryl at the door with the gun aimed at them. (The boy) stated Cheryl yelled ‘fire in the hole.’ He stated all of the kids ran into the house and called 911,” the affidavit added.

It appears that Pifer’s gun was legally owned. She was booked on four counts of felony menacing, seven counts of reckless child abuse and one count of prohibited use of a weapon. She was apparently drunk during the incident.

There’s no indication the gun was taken from her despite the fact that it’s illegal in Colorado to brandish a gun while under the influence, which isn’t an uncommon practice at all. In fact, findings in the British Medical Journal say that gun owners are twice as likely to drink heavily as non-gun owners.

Here’s the problem: These two broad categories of behavior are often related. Of the 395,366 firearms-related deaths reported in the United States between 1997 — when this data were actually collected — and 2009 — the latest date for which the tally of firearms-related deaths is available — about one-third are thought to have involved alcohol. In 2007, 34.5% of suicide and homicide victims in the United States had alcohol in their systems at the time of death, and 60% of those were considered acutely intoxicated.

A very large body of research tells us that people who abuse alcohol or drugs are at far higher risk of committing acts of violence and self-harm. Although laws in some states bar the sale of guns to those with alcohol abuse problems, they’re often drafted in terms that aren’t very specific, and therefore aren’t very effective — forbidding the sale of firearms, for instance, to “habitual drunkards.” (Source)
Guns, alcohol — it’s a good thing the clarinet-playing boy is alive to play another day. As for Pilfer, she’ll most likely still be waving her gun while drinking.