Fatal shooting not as simple as it appears

Eight-year-old shoots grandmother after playing violent video game. Guns.com, August 26, 2013.

A disturbing case of a boy of eight who shot his grandmother with a 38 caliber handgun moments after he was playing video game Grand Theft Auto. Though the specifics are still unclear, we are told that he had a loving relationship with his grandmother but that he may have shot her intentionally.

The implications are clear. Given the age of the boy, we can assume that he did not fully understand that shooting her with a gun could actually kill her. Kids aged 8 often do not truly understand the concept of death. Also, he probably couldn’t fully comprehend the concept of fantasy play versus reality. So if shooting in the video game was okay, then shooting his grandmother with a real gun may have not seemed at all horrible.

But there are other factors to which we are not privy, and I can only pose a few questions. Why was he playing Grand Theft Auto in the first place? After all, it is not a game meant to be played by eight-year-olds. Why was he living with his grandmother and not his parents? Was there a history of violence in the home? Was there tension between the grandmother and her son or daughter? Was there marital discord? And finally, what was a handgun doing lying around for the boy to find and use so easily? The answers to these questions would explain much. After all, the killing of the grandmother by the boy is a complex matter, with many variables afoot.

But the playing of Grand Theft Auto by an eight year old and the availability of the handgun are two crucial ones.