So a new article by the New York Times talks about accidental shooting of young children.
Its a heart-string pulling article on kids shooting other kids, mostly from guns not properly stored, and likely kids only given rudimentary or no gun safety training at all. It further goes down to conflate gang activity with accidental shooting.
Frankly I advocate gun safety training, as well as storage options that allow quick access to defensive guns for defense against danger, but make it difficult for children too young to know better to get them in a working condition.
Still this isn’t really a GUN issue perse, its a child safety issue and it includes guns as well as swimming pools, cleaning chemicals, prescription medications, kitchen knifes and home improvement tools. The world isn’t a safe place, and guns aren’t any different than many potential hazards to young children.
Mrs. Weer’d sent me a Mom-Blog post on this article. Its high on observations, and light on solutions, which is what the author is asking of the readers.
The article makes it clear that child gun deaths know no racial, economic or geographical boundaries. They happen everywhere to people and families from all walks of life.
This is the part that scares me: The uncontrollable variable that exists in the form of other people’s guns. Parents may be hyper-vigilant at home but they can’t control what happens in other homes their children may visit.
To be honest, it has never once occurred to me to ask a parent of one of my child’s friends if they have guns in the house. While we don’t own any guns, we live in a part of the country where hunting is a way of life. Along with this hunting culture comes the assumption of gun safety education.
I’m quite sure my children have been in homes with guns in them. Since we’re talking hunting rifles, rather than not personal protection, I’ve naively assumed these guns would never, ever be stored in any readily accessible place. Yet, now I’m remembering that hunting rifle, or was it a BB gun, in my brother’s closet when I was a kid. I had no interest in touching it. According to the article, boys represent the majority of perpetrators and victims of accidental gun deaths.
Reading this article makes me second guess my blind faith that all parents, and gun makers, are doing everything they can to prevent accidental gun deaths of children.
A fair, and smart observation, and the first comment slaps it out of the park:
This is why it is so important to teach gun safety to our children starting at an early age, even if you don’t personally own one. You never know when/if your child will come across one, it could be at a friends house or even at the park. Unfortunately you cannot assure your child will never have access to an unsecured gun, but with proper and continuous education you have a better chance of your child handling the situation the proper way.
I completely agree with Lynn. Gun safety should be taught at a VERY early age. We have guns in our home. Our daughter respects guns, even toys, to the extreme that we never even point a squirt gun at a person. She understands to never touch a gun, that it is not a toy. I was never around guns as a child, in fact never around guns until I met my husband. They made me nervous, but he assured me that he grew up around guns and that we will teach our daughter to respect them.
Keep them locked up and no one gets hurt.
Of course keep them locked up too tight and nobody gets saved either. One must be VERY careful on how tightly we cling to raw safety, as the whole reason for having guns is protection of innocent lives, and frankly if all you want are guns for pinking and hunting, the safest option is to not have guns at all, or store them outside your home.
Of course I don’t keep guns for this reason, sure I have my collector’s pieces and sporting guns, which are locked up, and unloaded with ammo stored separately, but if I can’t get to my defensive guns quick enough, well what’s the point of having all that potential danger in the first place?
Now time to look at the other side. The ever-radical Joan Peterson also saw this article:
We do our very best as a country and as individuals to protect our children from accidents. We insist on fences around backyard pools. We post warning signs about various potential hazards. We have special plugs to keep little children from putting their fingers in electrical sockets. We have special locks for cupboards containing household cleaning supplies. We put childproof caps on medicine bottles. We recall dangerous toys and other consumer products deemed to be risks for injury or death or children. Children must be in child seats until they are 11 or weigh a certain weight. Playground equipment has to meet OSHA standards. We have crossing guards at our schools. We admonish our children constantly to be careful about things they are doing. So why not do the same for guns?
Wow, look at that nonsense! Let’s tear it apart. First she talks about safety standards for children’s products. You can’t compare them with guns. Yes if a child’s toy or swing set is unsafe it gets recalled or never gets made at all, but these are items DESIGNED for children to play with with minimal supervision. Guns aren’t like that. You don’t see the sames safety regulations and recalls if somebody lops off a finger with a power saw, or burns themselves on a stove or gas grill, or cuts themselves with a kitchen knife. These are adult items, much like guns, and are to have separate regulations.
Further Joan dives into the false dichotomy talking about outlet plugs, child-safe medicine bottles, and cabinet safety locks. These are all great items, but they’re hardly the paragon of safety. Yes your kid will find it difficult to pry out a safety plug from an outlet (tho I personally have early memories of popping those things out at my home and popping them back in for fun), but its really easy for a kid to unplug a cord getting power from an outlet. Further my wife keeps her medication in a pill case which is VERY easy to open, so that needs to be stored out of reach.
And of course none of these things are mandated by law. You won’t go to jail for keeping pills in a pill case, or for plugging a floor lamp or cell charger into a low outlet, but those are the laws Joan supports for guns…because guns are different!!!
As my readers know I have been writing about the tragedy of children finding guns in their homes and shooting themselves, a sibling, a friend or other family member. These gun deaths and injuries are totally preventable. And yet, we do little to stop them. People seem to think their guns need to be loaded and at the ready for “self defense” in their homes. So they carelessly leave their guns sitting around ready for their children to find them and use them.
Of course what Joan doesn’t say is that she is adamantly against any sort of safety training for kids, most specifically the Eddie Eagle program offered by the NRA.
Why, given the evidence which is plain to see, would the NRA lobbyists deny that it is actually the gun owner who is responsible for the accidental shooting of a child?
So we need to ban guns?? You’ll always see that the anti-rights cultists never dive into punishing those who are truly negligent, but go after guns, gun makers, and punishing people who have committed no crimes at all.
The real solution is punishing pure negligence, from leaving cleaning chemicals unsecured and dangerous tools laying around, to tucking guns under sofas or in closets loaded and ready to go. Also teaching gun safety and respect of firearms. Guns are a part of American lives, and they save many lives every year, so its foolish to banish them from homes, with or without small children. Further expecting just because you don’t own a gun that your child will never encounter one is pure foolishness, so they need the mental tools to understand the dangers they pose and the easy ways to avoid peril.
There’s abstinence only education and then there’s “Let’s pretend sex doesn’t exist.”
I remember Mom and Dad not letting me play in some peoples’ homes. Didn’t understand it at the time but it was because they didn’t trust the judgment of the other parents.
And I think they did the right thing; sometimes the best way to prevent a problem is to keep kids out of the situation. We’ve grown so accustomed to a non-judgmental approach to everything that it keeps us from doing the right thing.
that it is actually the gun owner who is responsible for the accidental shooting of a child?
There is some responsibility to be laid on the gun owner; but also on the child and the parent of the child if it that parent wasn’t the gun owner. Sorry but that is simply the truth. Seldom are things cut and dried as 100% of the blame goes “here” — the child should know — be taught by the parents — to leave things alone. We teach them not to drink stuff under the cabinets, we teach them not to touch hot stoves, we teach them to hold our hands and look both ways before crossing the street.
So how is it wrong to teach them gun safety?
Gun Safety means less “Gun Death”, and that is their lifeblood.
Ah, again with the “childproof medicine bottle” argument.
Newsflash to Joan: It doesn’t exist. If it did, half the adults in the country wouldn’t be able to take their medications! Folks with arthritic or sprained/broken hands/fingers would be screwed!
Children are amazingly creative and resourceful. Opening a “childproof” pill bottle is – let’s be realistic – not that hard. At best, they slow the child down a little bit – and we can hope the child will get bored or have a “SQUIRREL!!” moment and walk away. But if he/she wants in, he/she will eventually get in. Best solution is to keep them out of reach of the very young-uns, and teach the older-uns that it’s not OK to play with the bottles*, that medicine is not candy, and that they need to ask a parent before they eat anything they find.
* – Single exception, for the kids old enough to understand exceptions: Empty bottles with the labels peeled off are fine. Those medicine bottles are great for small rock collections, money/change, beads, buttons, and other odds and ends kids tend to accumulate and collect.