Guns and Children

This is not a post about gun-control legislation. It is about gun owners’ responsibilities. Adult gun owners’ negligence regularly results in fatalities and injuries due to children gaining access to guns and lax safety measures. Numerous stories are reported about kids killing others or being killed or injured by their friends or family members.

Of course, these are always referred to as accidents. However, they are really not accidents and are entirely preventable. Here is a [very] short-list of child-related gun incidents just over the past several months:

June 3 – In Arkansas, while playing, 15 year old Nico Sanders shoots 16 year-old Trevor Hargrove in the chest.

May 8 – In Texas, a 2-year old dies of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

April 30 – In Kentucky, a 2-year old girl was shot and killed by her 5-year old brother with a .22-caliber rifle he had received as a gift.

April 9 – In South Carolina, a toddler died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

April 8 – In New Jersey, 6 year old Brandon Holt, was shot in the head by his friend and neighbor, an unidentified 4-year-old boy; Brandon dies on April 9.

April 7 – In Tennessee, a woman was shot in the stomach by her 2-year-old child.

April 6 – In Tennessee, a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed the wife of a sheriff’s deputy.

March 24 – In North Carolina, a father cleaning his shotgun shoots his 10-year old son in the head.

March 13 – In Washington, a 3-year old shoots, kills self.

There are so many other tragic incidences like the ones above. Do a quick Google search if you don’t believe me.

In the case of Trevor Hargrove, his mother, Kim, seemed almost casual about his shooting injury. She told a news station:  “They’re good friends, it was just an accident, and I just want all parents to know to keep guns locked up and teach your kids gun safety. Just because the clip ain’t in the gun doesn’t mean there’s not a bullet in the chamber and somebody can get hurt really bad.” Seriously? If this were my child, the Sanders would have a lawsuit and criminal charges thrown at them so fast their heads would spin.

These are tragedies that can be prevented by taking common sense measures.  Guns should never be out in plain sight or even tucked under a pillow or stored in a drawer in a back bedroom when children are around. Guns should be locked in a gun cabinet or a safe and the keys hidden. If for some reason a gun must be out in the presence of children, be damn sure it is unloaded, then double checked that it is unloaded, and do not leave it unattended for even a second, especially if it is loaded. The sheriff in the above April 6 incident put his gun on the bed, turned away, and in a matter of seconds the 4-year old grabbed the gun and pulled the trigger.

Gun owners love their guns; we get that. They have a right to own guns, but with gun ownership comes a great deal of responsibility. Those who cannot responsibly store their weapons should have them confiscated. In addition, there needs to be some sort of punishment for an adult’s gross negligence that causes harm or death to another person, especially when the killer is a child. Think of the guilt and the stigma of having killed someone that these children will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

Adults are responsible for the children—their own and other peoples’—in their home at all times. How many more kids have to die or become killers before grown-ups take seriously keeping guns out of the hands of children, especially toddlers? Slate’s Justin Peters has been writing regularly about this very topic. He advocates for stronger child access prevention laws, gun-safety education campaigns, and incentivizing gun owners to purchase gun safes and install trigger locks.  These “accidents” are highly preventable, so gun owners, prevent them.

Cross-posted at The Feisty Liberal

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