Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Children and guns- accidents happen

I was surprised this morning when a local reporter called me about an ad on the Protect Minnesota website about a little girl finding a gun in her house and shooting it. This ad has been called our "Sarah" ad since it was produced pro bono several years ago and we have been hoping for it to get some media exposure. If you look on the website, you will see the animated video version of the ad in the middle of the home page of the site. We think it is quite effective and should be a lesson to all parents about where guns, loaded or otherwise, are stored in the home. Far too many times, we hear of children who happen upon guns in their home or the home of a friend. The result is, too often, a dead or badly wounded child.

Our American love affair with guns blinds too many people to the actual risk of having guns around the house. Guns are designed to kill. They are weapons. So why leave one laying around the house loaded? Parents have a huge responsibility for keeping their children safe. So earlier this week, an 8 year old child found a hunting gun leaning against a wall and accidentally shot his 3 year old brother. Luckily, the 3 year was not shot dead but injured badly. This is a tragedy for all concerned. This is what prompted the call from the reporter who was looking for more information about accidental shootings of children in Minnesota. These types of shootings happen every day in our country but it always seems surprising when it happens close to home.

Rather than be tragically surprised, there are simple things that can be done and lots of help for common sense concerning children and guns. The Protect Minnesota Campaign has written a Kids and Guns brochure with lots of advise about safe storage and how to talk to children about guns. Another website about kids and guns talks common sense to parents and offers many studies and articles about children and guns. The PAX group advises parents about asking if there is a gun in homes where children play and also encourages teens to report anonymously if they know of a threat of a potential shooter in a school.

It is not just accidental shootings that take the lives of children. Suicide is the silent tragedy that families often don't want to discuss and that we don't hear about in media reports. Guns and children don't go together. Teens are especially vulnerable and at risk for suicide. Keeping guns out of the home when volatile teens are having trouble in school or with friends or involved with drugs or alcohol is just a bad idea. Safe storage of guns is of the utmost importance at these times. Senseless deaths can be avoided with simple measures.

Coincidental to the most recent accidental shooting in Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published a story about children killing children with guns. The article is accompanied by a graph and chart showing the number of accidental gun deaths amongh children in Minnesota. The reporter gathered very important and recent data on the number of children who die from accidental shootings in Minnesota. Though the numbers are not large, they are significant enough to be cause for our concern. If that number of children died from other causes, there would be commissions and studies and calls for legislation or regulation. But not where guns are concerned. The NRA's cries of confiscating guns and violating second amendment rights trump safety. When will we ever learn?

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