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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Turning Kids Into Killers

Written by PETA | February 24, 2009
wildlifedepartment / CC
Hopefully, young hunters such as this one will be banned from hunting in Pennsylvania.
Youth hunting

Last Friday, an 11-year-old Wampum, Pennsylvania, boy allegedly picked up his youth-model 20-gauge shotgun and shot his father’s pregnant girlfriend as she slept. The boy, Jordan Brown, had received the gun as a Christmas gift from his father, who was reportedly teaching the child to hunt in the woods surrounding their rural home.

This wouldn’t be the first time that a kid who had been schooled in the ways of snuffing out wildlife turned his gun on another human being—and it almost certainly won’t be the last. Remember 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson and 11-year-old Andrew Golden of Jonesboro, Arkansas? In 1998, they took the hunting guns belonging to Andrew’s grandfather—who had taught Andrew to hunt—and used them to ambush their fellow students, killing four girls and one teacher. In her book, Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings, Katherine Newman writes that the young killers “dressed in camouflage clothing, exactly as Andrew did when he went hunting. … From across the field, their classmates and teachers seemed less like the human beings they went to school with than like quarry to be killed.”

In 2006, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced the creation of the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, “to encourage more young people to take up hunting to increase hunter numbers.” In the wake of last week’s tragic shooting, we’ve written to the governor of Pennsylvania, urging him to ban all hunting by children under the age of 18. You can read our letter here.

Not everyone who stalks and kills animals will stalk and kill a human. But every time a person picks up a gun, aims it at another living being, and fires, it must deaden a piece of his or her heart. Children have a natural affinity for animals, yet we hand them guns and teach them to be killers. Can we be surprised, then, when these children direct that violence at others?

Written by Paula Moore

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  • Greg says:

    We teach our children to fish and hunt not to learn how to kill but to learn how to live. We have a great respect for mother nature and everything she has to offer, but we must never lose the most basic skills to survive.I hope the day never comes when trains stop running and starbucks stops brewing and you have to fend for yourself, half of you will die without your ipads. This is why only 20% of do the heavy lifting and fight the wars. So stay on west coast and stay on the east coast and we take care of things in America.

  • Chris says:

    Umm i hate to say these but that is incredibly wrong? I’ve used guns my whole life, and it hasn’t destroyed my heart? Never in my life has it gone through my mind to shoot someone. Just because you hunt doesn’t mean you are mentally unstable. The two guys from columbine were not hunters, they were just mentally unstable

  • Zalius says:

    @John, the reason people hunt is (obviously) that we are Omnivorous, and naturally we require meat and fruit alike, although full plant diets have been created, we are still omnivores.

  • Jared says:

    You have one case that you have found where a kid killed somebody was a hunterwhat about all the school shootings that happened?

  • Ty says:

    I COMPLETLY DISAGREE WITH PEOPLE WHO SAY HUNTERS ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF SOCIETY! I have hunted squirrels doves rabbits and quail since I was 10. I am a certified vet and have always been at the top of my class. Anyway hunters only shoot at the animals they are 100 sure they can kill in 1 shot. And we only kill the ones we will eat.

  • Jamie says:

    Hello all in an attempt to be wellmannered and pleasant in this somewhat… Spirited debate I’d like to give you some personal experience with hunting. Yes I am a bowhunter. So that removes any question of gun rights and gun violence. Secondly I am not an American. I am an Australian and thus i can truthfully and genuinely claim that the hunting I and my friends do is environmental. As most of the game animals hunted are feral animals Deer rabbits foxes pigs etc this contributes in efforts to control and reduce numbers of introduced species. Now onto the main point which is children going hunting. For many a year it’s been a rural Australian for children to go spotlighting rabbits with Dad and a .22. There is nothing particularly insidious or evil about this. More often then not it’s because there is a rabbit infestation and a bullet is the cheapest and most human way to fix this. By humane I mean that it is an instant death. Hunting is just something done out of necessity. And there is an enjoyment factor to it. Humans are designed to hunt plain and simple. If rabbit hunting turns kids into murderers and going deer hunting with Grandpa is evil I’m yet too see any evidence towards it. Thank you for listening.

  • pvt. furst says:

    well spoken gary and keith. i couldn’t agree more. I am from northern wisconsin where deer hunting is a way of life. opening day of hunting season is on par with christmas and thanksgiving. It is a way for families to bond. It is a way to provide delicious healthy organic free range meat to ourselves and communityfmany hunters donate venison to needy families what these PETA ppl forget to mention is how many motorists are injured and killed each year from collisions with deer. Should i start a movement against deer just because they destroyed my 94′ ranger. Which they did!! The midwest is overpopulated with deer who are also currently spreading disease such as lyme. Hunting keeps the population stable. And having this whole argument based around guns ignores the fact that many hunters prefer the old fashioned method of huntingBOW AND ARROW If you don’t like hunting thats fine and dandy but don’t try to destroy what we hold so dear… no pun intended

  • vegancoin says:

    “…justtrying to clarify if you meant the “Bubba Factor” was a way of calling hunters hill billiesrednecks hicks etc. ” i find it more than a little strange that you are attempting to “fill in the blanks” for someone whom claims to be highly educated in fact claiming to be college eduated. Go figure. Bubba Factor is a Bubba Factor does. “they couldn’t figure out what the “Bubba Factor” meant is because they never heard of it before.” Google it it ain’t hard to find. “The majority of people don’t hunt because are heartless killers they hunt for the excitement and challenge.” Wrong. First a very small select population hunts in the first place whether for sustinence or sport. This is one example of the mass media overplaying their hand ignoring the hard cold facts creating myth and fomenting fractured naive macho stereotypes to worship and adore. Just plain silly. And second we have all seen or heard the usual gutless selfish and remote justifications for hunting they are all equally implausible. and the majority of people hunt because they are lazy and indifferent and typically unenlightened. They aren’t doing you or me any favors also i thinks it’s a grand stretch that you should be pretending motivations and justifications for hunters and other abusers of mother nature.

  • Kurt K says:

    Vegancoin I think the question was trying to clarify if you meant the “Bubba Factor” was a way of calling hunters hill billiesrednecks hicks etc. I would venture a guess to the reason they couldn’t figure out what the “Bubba Factor” meant is because they never heard of it before. Its a made up word from a person who neither takes the time nor the opportunity to understand that way of life nor would they want to given the chance. I don’t care what you say hunting is an innate instinct engrained in all humans. Some choose and have the opportunity to express those instincts some people do not. The majority of people don’t hunt because are heartless killers they hunt for the excitement and challenge. Killing the animal is just part of the process and it serves a purpose of feeding the hunter and his family for an extended period of time. You don’t understand this because you won’t try. If you talked to a hunter you would call them names and attack them instead of talking to them and see their perspective.

  • vegancoin says:

    “Can you please define the “Bubba Factor”… unable to comprehend what exactly the Bubba Factor is?” All the swagger and sway of a foolproof condescending speciesist claims to be college educated yet can’t figure out what The Bubba Factor is. Amazing. and commonsense will tell you that anytime you have killed something you have committed murder. i am not surprised that you found it necessary to hide behind biblical fairy tales and defective warped interpretations to defend your remote and foolish viewpoints.

  • Eilean says:

    I totally agree! Teaching children these things is what ruins there life! And as a person who cares a hell of a lot for animals I believe that no child should be taught to hunt and kill ANY living thing whether it be an animal or a human. I am only 14 and do not know all the facts about all of these type of things but I completely disagree with hunting! I believe we should all step in and make a change that counts!!!

  • Julian says:

    About what Gary said The only reason forests would be degraded if whitetail deer were not hunted none of that would be a problem if hunters Sarah Palin and co. hadn’t killed off all the animals at the top of the food chain like wolves bears and panthers. When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone the entire ecosystem went back into balance. Now Palin still kills wolves and bears either by her own laws or illegally.

  • Fitz says:

    I agree with Elizabeth that maturity is a big part of the equation. I feel that maturity is amongst the highest of virtues as well as compassion and humbleness. I think that these virtues typically are not exclusive from each other nor are they a destination but a constant journey or practice that is tested changed and evolved every day through our choices and actions. This maturity cannot be limited to one lifestyle choice. Again Elizabeths argument did make a lot of sense to me but I cant help but find hypocrisy in these types of responses again I mean no disrespect I know that I too am often hypocritical but I still like and respect me . Try this as an example. Reread her statement but replace HUNT and GUN with the following sets of words Have Sex Condom Charge Credit Card Religion Bible Torah Koran Drive Car Text CellphoneComputer Smoke Joint and my favorite Eat Candy Candy Bar! As far as giving children guns I have to say that someone who would hand an 11 year old a gun has to be stupid. Anyone who is around children would most likely agree that anyone under the age of 18 and sometimes older is not the most mature person in the world. People should be mature before they make a decision about whether or not they are going to hunt. When they are older and have graduated from college if they want to hunt that’s their problem. However it’s very likely you will find that waiting until they are in or have graduated college will cause many people to understand that hunting is wrong. Also by teaching a child to hunt before they have matured you have taken their personal choice out of the equation. Teaching a child to hunt can indoctrinate them to believe that hunting is OK whereas if they were given the choice when they have been raised in a neutral environment they may decide that they think hunting is wrong. Bottom line is children are too immature and young to make decisions about hunting. You can do this with every possible part of life. There is a time and place. Its not the same for everybody. Moderation and education are great tools in all aspects of teaching our children and ourselves. For me hunting is a part of life. Its as much a part of me as my finances my sexuality my religion my personality my diet and an infinite list of other traits that make me who I am. And when the time comes for me to have children it would be impossible to keep any of these parts of my life away from them. Does this mean that Im going to give my children a gun and make them kill something? Of course not. No more than Id give them a football and make them be a quarterback I didn’t play but it sounds more exciting than running Cross Country or hand them a bible and force them to know GOD. On the other side I will not hide the fact that the venison in our spaghetti can from my hunting or the fact that sugar or smoking can be bad for you or that Jesus Christ is my Savior I hope no one cringed at the last one. We teach our children and our communities primarily by example. I live my life the best way I know how. And that way is constantly shifting sometimes only slightly sometimes dramatically. I dont expect my everyone to be like me thats insane. I like wolves but I dont expect the eagle or maple tree to become a wolf. Id sure like to see more wolves though and I still like them more than other creatures. Sorry for being long winded but I cannot look at any situation especially if it involves a belief system or set of beliefs without comparing it to as many others as I can. We need to not only be mature and teach our children what we believe and why but we need to teach them how to learn and make informed decisions FYI I think two people can have the same information and rightfully come to different conclusions. So I will teach my children about hunting yes. But I also hope to teach them to learn and make their own decisions about whether or not they will hunt for themselves.

  • Elphaba says:

    Fitz Thanks for the thoughtful post I agree very much that a sensible discussion of opposing viewpoints is much more productive than arguing and namecalling. Though I am opposed to killing animals for any reason excepting humane euthanasia when the animal is suffering and I hate guns I do tend to have more respect for hunters who strive to make a clean and painless kill than people who don’t have the stones and pay someone else to do the killing for them. Though it is still harmful for the animals who are hunted and for the families they leave behind they at least have a better life and death than animals who are raised on factory farms and die in slaughterhouses. Dr. Cochran It’s good to see you here again!

  • Derek, MD says:

    I need to proofread a little better…I meant to say we are clearly less adapted to eat animal based products than plant based.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Personally I believe that hunting is wrong. I also think that making an assumption about all hunters based on no actual scientific data is wrong. As far as giving children guns I have to say that someone who would hand an 11 year old a gun has to be stupid. Anyone who is around children would most likely agree that anyone under the age of 18 and sometimes older is not the most mature person in the world. People should be mature before they make a decision about whether or not they are going to hunt. When they are older and have graduated from college if they want to hunt that’s their problem. However it’s very likely you will find that waiting until they are in or have graduated college will cause many people to understand that hunting is wrong. Also by teaching a child to hunt before they have matured you have taken their personal choice out of the equation. Teaching a child to hunt can indoctrinate them to believe that hunting is ok whereas if they were given the choice when they have been raised in a neutral environment they may decide that they think hunting is wrong. Bottom line is children are too immature and young to make decisions about hunting.