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.
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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Toddlers and guns

Toddlers should not have access to guns, period. At least weekly, I have read about or written about yet another toddler who has shot him/herself or a family member with an unsecured loaded gun. And then, of course, there are the oft occurring deaths of toddlers by stray bullets flying around on our streets. This is America. This is the country where second amendment rights reign supreme. This is the country where people are so cavalier and careless with their guns that they senselessly put the lives of themselves or others at risk. This is stupid and dangerous. Why do we tolerate such dangerous behavior? The NRA says it's because people should have unfettered rights to own and carry any kind of gun or ammunition available to them. They want it. They don't need it. This is the NRA's version of America. This is leading to daily incidents of law abiding citizens either threatening others with guns or actually shooting them. This is the America our elected leaders have left to us because they refuse to stand up to the mythically and uber powerful NRA and its' minions. There should be shame and embarrassment. Instead there is bravado, fear, paranoia, weakness, ignorance, hate, and lack of courage and responsibility.

So here, again, are some recent examples of the senseless shootings of and by toddlers. A Tennessee mother left a loaded gun on a couch which, of course, was found by her 3 year child who shot himself. Why? What is the matter with law abiding permit holders? Are they so cavalier with their guns that they just don't think anything could possibly go wrong for them? The next one involves a law enforcement officer and his careless behavior. Too many times I have read about and written about the unsecured loaded guns of law enforcement officers found by toddlers to a tragic end. Here is yet another one from the Kid Shootings blog. The article linked in the blog writes about a Utah 2 year old who got his father's service gun and shot himself to death. says this:
The young child who died Tuesday night in Springville after accidentally shooting himself was the son of a police officer, and the Utah County Attorney's Office is now investigating the incident to avoid any potential conflicts.
The 2-year-old boy died from what is believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he grabbed a handgun in the home.
"I'm not quite sure whether it was the service weapon or not, but the child got a hold of the handgun and shot himself with it," said Tim Taylor, chief deputy with the Utah County Attorney's Office.
If the officer was this careless on the job, would he be reprimanded? He will not be charged for the death of his child. Child Access Prevention laws are often not enforced. Why? Parents already feel badly enough about their own careless behavior leading to the death of a child. Why punish them further? That is probably a good thing. But what will get parents to lock up their guns away from toddlers and older children? What will get gun owners to believe that having guns in the home is dangerous for their families? If the NRA would step up and actually do something to prevent senseless shootings instead of making excuses and convincing Americans that guns make us safer, perhaps our gun culture would change. Perhaps we would reduce and even prevent gun injuries and deaths. Will they? As long as the NRA is protecting the gun industry, the answer is no. Follow the money. From the article:
And America can give some of the credit for that to the NRA. Bloomberg reported that the NRA ended 2011 as “a lobbying, merchandising and marketing machine that brings in more than $200 million a year [that] intends to help unseat the incumbent president.”
And the gun industry – led by Ruger – has benefited tremendously from the NRA. According to IRS fillings, from 2004 to 2010, the NRA’s revenue from fundraising — including gifts from gun makers who benefit from its political activism — grew twice as fast as its income from members’ dues.
Children are dying from bullets. But money, to the NRA and the gun industry, is more important than human lives. We are better than this. Until people join together in common sense measures to prevent senseless shootings, this is the America we will have. Raise your hand if you think this is the America you want. Toddlers should be playing with toys, not guns. That is the America we should expect.

And last, but not least, is this awful story of a pre-school aged Minnesota child who found the dead bodies of his mother and a man in his house.
The child of preschool age went to a neighbor and said his mother was not moving, said Police Chief Steve Smith.
Officers arrived at the home about 9:25 a.m. and discovered the bodies "in close proximity to each other," Smith said. A gun was recovered at the scene, the chief added.
Smith said that "at this time there is no one specifically that we're looking at" as a suspect.
"We're not quite sure what we have," he added, when asked whether this could be a case of murder-suicide. "We're hoping to know more later."
Good grief. Little children should not have to grow up with this memory. Guns in the home are dangerous. And now this child has become a victim of gun violence as well.

There are things that can be done to avoid children getting guns and shooting themselves. Here are great suggestions from my blogger friend at the New Trajectory blog. Common sense should inform every parent about guns in the home. If they have decided they must have guns, then they should be responsible for the safety of every person in that home because they have chosen to bring a deadly weapon into their home. From the blog post:
Here's what gun owners can do:
• If you have children in the home, any gun is a potential danger to them. Seriously consider the risks.  
• Store firearms unloaded, locked up and out of children's reach.
• Store ammunition in a separate, locked location.  
• Use quality gun locks, lock boxes or gun safes on every firearm. Gun locks, when correctly installed, prevent firearms from being discharged without the lock being removed.  
• Keep gun storage keys and lock combinations hidden in a separate location.  
• Take a course in using, maintaining and storing guns safely.  
Here's what all caregivers can do:
•  Talk to your children about the potential dangers of guns.  
•  Teach children never to touch or play with a gun.  
•  Teach children to tell an adult if they find a gun, or call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number if no adult is present.  
•  Check with neighbors, friends or relatives--or adults in any other homes where children visit--to ensure they follow safe storage practices if firearms are in the home.  See our ASK Program.
And if you don't believe what I have written here, please read the Kid Shootings blog. It should be required reading for all elected leaders, all parents and all gun owners.

19 comments:

  1. I see it and write about it daily.

    My idea is every time a kid gets ahold of a gun some adult should be held responsible. They should lose their guns, first, then other sanctions should be considered depending.

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    1. we all have the rights to own reasonable gun's ie' a rifle for hunting, a shotgun for game birds and a hand gun for home protection, if we have a clear criminal record and no mental issue's we should have no problem pre qualifying in the background check prior to the purchase of the guns we want to fullfill the wishe's in our rights, We then have the responsibility to ensure all these guns are secured in a steel lockable gun safe away from children, and if we want the children to use the rifles, we must for safety send them to gun safety training courses, seems pretty basic stuff, Guns will not be taken away unless we abuse their use in criminal activitie's in which we have abused our own right's and must suffer the action's of the prevailing law's

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    2. Thank you again for your very reasonable comments.

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  2. As we say at the Kid Shootings blog, "Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult."

    Guns and kids don't mix. Though there are plenty of examples of children who grew up in homes who didn't shoot themselves or others (I'm one), there are plenty of examples of those who do. Why take a chance? Every child, no matter how well-behaved they are, will have moments of curiosity, impetuousness, irresponsibility, or even plain ole stupidity. Some get depressed and suicidal. Add a gun to those moments and you have a potentially deadly mix.

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  3. The real question here is ... what will be more effective at targeting this issue, legislation or education? The smart money is on education.

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    1. It's really too bad that so many gun owners seem uneducated, isn't it? Why is that? We don't take training and the fact that guns are lethal weapons designed to kill seriously enough in this country. That is the main problem. Legislation would send a message that guns are dangerous and we intend to do everything we can to protect our children and our neighborhoods from idiots with guns.

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    2. It's not an either or choice it is an all of the above choice, including getting guns out of the hands of those people who really are not as responsible as tehy want us to believe.

      Lets start screening - screen for early onset of dementia and Alzheimers to catch people when they become dangerously forgetful; screen for heavy use of alcohol - we don't let drunk people drive, we should be lookng at those who might however use a gun in an impaired condition; screen for basic physical impairment - bad vision, loss of coordination or muscle control like Parkinson's, etc. We require a very specific physical for people who fly; we should do the same with firearms for the same reason - there is an inherent risk in the normal use of planes and guns, to the user and to others.

      I feel badly for those parents who lose a child, but shouldn't we feel worse for the child who died senselessly and needlessly? Wouldn't putting those who were recklessly negligent behind bars be a warning, a caution, a potential deterrent to others to be more careful? Clearly, that isn't working when it comes to people being aware of the high statistical numbers of kids who are being killed and injured, or traumatized by killing and injuring others. Every one of these adults don't believe any of these things could ever happen to them or those around them with their guns - they live in a fantasy world, they live in denial.
      We need to shake them out of it, we need to get their attention, we need to make them think at a better level and a lot more frequently about security than they do now with storing / using their weapons.

      Lets start with your gun is used in a child injury or death, you lose the weapon, you lose your access to firearms for life. Lets make them have some skin in the game - lets also require mandatory insurance coverage, so if it is someone else's kid the are compensated for their loss even if that will not bring back their child or heal their hurt.

      It wouldn't be a bad thing to require periodic licensing and/or safety testing either.

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    3. Education isn't enough. Child Access Prevention Laws, mandating safe storage in homes with children, have been shown to drastically reduce accidental shootings in children AND adults, and drastically reduce suicides among teens. But only about half of the states currently have such laws.

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  4. Do you honestly believe that legislation is going to make a parent be more safe than the love they have for their child? Or put another way, if a parent doesn't care about their children or family, why would such a parent care about a law?

    This study concludes that By and large, behavioral programs and legal interventions aimed at parents have not been proven to reduce youth gun violence.

    A quick sampling of WISQARS for 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, shows that unintentional firearm deaths for ages 0 to 19 was 114. Yes, these are 114 horrible tragedies, and every life is worth saving, but now look at the larger picture. The number of unintentional poisoning deaths in that age group, including drug and alcohol overdose, jumps to 824. The number who are intentionally murdered is 2917. The number of suicides was 1934. According to MADD, teen alcohol use kills about 6000 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.

    All of these much higher numbers seem to point to something much more harmful to children than guns recklessly lying around the house. In much the same way that the 1994 AWB was wishful thinking, it's also wishful thinking to assume that legislating gun safety will actually reduce any deaths.

    Most of the suggestions you provide at the end of your post are sound, but I believe they would be most effective in a home where respect, discipline, morals, and love are prevalent in the family.

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    1. You missed my point, again, Migo. And if you don't think we should do anything about this problem, then I can't help you. And, by the way, this also makes Eddie Eagle programs pretty worthless as well. I wonder why the NRA keeps touting them as safety programs and wants them in our schools if this is not a problem?

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  5. If your point was to educate, and not legislate, then I did miss your point. I believe that requiring gun owners to also take an additional legally required action, excluding education, is practically useless, when the reasons behind the comparably low unintentional firearm injuries and deaths among children (approx. 10 ppm in 2010) lie elsewhere. For example, most people who are forced to buy trigger locks generally discard them and won't use them. That's what I would do if I was required to purchase one with every gun.

    Look at your own example of the Tennessee woman who took off her gun and left it unattended. I don't believe owning a trigger lock, lock box, or gun safe would have affected her actions, because she also made a potentially dangerous tactical mistake. For example, if she was carrying because of a potential threat, then that threat could have entered her home when she wasn't looking and used her weapon against her. Clearly she wasn't thinking, she was distracted, or she made a mistake, which happens to most, if not all, of us. It reminds me of the Secret Service Agent who forgot her gun in the bathroom. I'm assuming the SS agent had more training than the Tennessee woman, but that didn't seem to help either. Or maybe Romney just gets all the bad agents?

    As for Eddie Eagle, I wouldn't say that it's any more worthless than a conversation between a doctor and their patient about gun safety. Both can help in some situations, but neither is going to be effective unless the child is raised in a strong family where there are clear goals and boundaries, love, respect, discipline, and strong morals.

    Finally, I noticed that the number of unintentional firearm gunshot injuries and fatalities among children has been decreasing while the number of guns being purchased by Americans is increasing. What do you make of that?

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    1. To the latter, there is no connection whatsoever. As to your other points, Yes, a trigger lock would have prevented that child from shooting that gun. Smart gun technology where only the owner can pull the trigger would prevent children from shooting guns. Choosing not to have a gun in the home when you have young children would have prevented that child from shooting that gun. Distracted? Who said? You can't be distracted when you have loaded guns around your house. That is my point. Apparently you forgot about that. There is no excuse, period. So you are basically saying that nothing would make a difference except having more guns and making sure your guns are loaded so you can shoot someone when they come into your home? What a ludicrous view of safety.

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    2. If you're going to push for smart guns, you might as well push for a gun ban. I can respect you more if you're honest with me and just say gun ban. People who push smart guns and micro-stamping are con artists. They are taking advantage of the general ignorance the public has with the involved technologies.

      I'm an expert with many of the technologies that would be used in a smart gun. I work with these technologies every day and I can tell you with very high certainty that incorporating electronics inside a gun would so significantly reduce its reliability that only an idiot would trust their lives to them. Sandia National Laboratories concluded in one study that police won't use smart guns for that reason.

      Here's a simple test if you think I'm blowing hot air. Does your cell phone work for you perfectly every single time you need it or want it? Very few people can answer yes, but if you're one of the few, now drop it from 5 feet onto concrete and answer the question again.

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    3. No Migo. That is a ridiculous argument. A smart gun that keeps those who shouldn't be able to shoot it, a child, a teen, someone who has stolen it, is NOT a gun ban by any stretch of the imagination. Where do you get this stuff anyway?

      The last time I checked, my cell phone was not capable of shooting a bullet either purposely or accidentally, to kill someone. Your simple test is a ludicrous example. No one buys it. Why do you keep saying this like this? Did you think it through? Guns are more likely to be used to kill someone in the home who you know or love than to be used in self defense. That is a fact. Apparently you don't really care about keeping innocent people from being shot.

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    4. Actually, it's not a ridiculous argument, although it's my fault for not explaining it clearly enough. Please let me try again.

      Smart guns are a fantasy. They don't and won't exist using modern day technology. So pushing for smart guns is like pushing for guns that don't exist. It's like requiring that all cars must get 2000 mpg gas mileage before anyone can buy a car. So guess what? End of car sales. The reason you might not be able to understand this is because you don't know what it takes to build a smart gun. I do.

      The cell phone example is not ludicrous. A cell phone contains a battery, circuit board, passive electronics, microcontroller, accelerometers, and other sensors that are similar technologically to the electronics that would be contained within a smart gun. Solder joints and ceramic capacitors easily fracture after a drop from 4 feet because of the tremendous impact g-forces. They would do the same within a smart gun if the gun were dropped. They would also do the same over time when exposed to the routine explosive high-pressure forces obviously present within any gun. If the smart electronics fail, then the gun fails, which can be deadly for the officer or civilian relying on that gun for self-defense.

      Biometric data isn't necessarily constant. For example, a smart gun trained to respond to the owners hand pressure or blood vessel signature might fail to recognize the owner if his/her hand recently suffered some kind of trauma, which is especially likely during a fight. A gun would also be required to store many biometric templates reliably, because it's important for a gun to work in another officer's, or family member's, hands if the primary owner is injured.

      Electrolytic capacitors fail without warning after long periods of time especially when exposed to high heat. This would cripple the DC-DC converters within the smart system electronics rendering the remainder of the smart system useless.

      A smart gun requires power. Batteries fail. The extremely high g-forces present within the hostile environment within a gun can dislodge a copper particle from the plates and lodge it within the separator. This short circuit can result in premature and unexpected battery failure. Smart soldiers/police/civilians using ACOGs and other electronic red-dot sights also have BUIS on their rifles, because they know that batteries or electronics in their sights can fail unexpectedly. There is no backup system within a smart gun of its electronics or battery fails.

      Yes, I've thought this through right down to microscopic level. I don't want to turn this into a back and forth argument. Understanding electronics reliability is part of my job description. Why don't you spend some time reading through published national laboratory reports before criticizing me so quickly.

      I actually do care about keeping innocent people from being shot. Smart guns will get police officers and other innocent people who use them killed because the technology is unreliable and the gun won't fire when a life depends on it being fired. That's exactly why there's been no traction in adopting smart guns anywhere.

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    5. Migo, I stand by my statement that you don't care about protecting innocent people from being killed by stupid and dangerous people with guns. What is a better answer for you? I have yet to hear you guys come up with anything except that you all need your guns to protect yourself and they need to be unlocked and loaded at all times. That is what leads to so many accidents, suicides and yes, even homicides. Why don't you work on something better if you know so much about electronics if you really care about saving lives?

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    6. For those of you commenting that legislation can't help prevent such tragedies, you are wrong. Child Access Prevention laws, which mandate safe storage, significantly reduce the mortality and injury rates with firearms. Consider the following statistics:


      • In 12 states where CAP laws had been in effect for at least one year, unintentional firearm deaths fell by 23% from 1990-94 among children under 15 years old.
      (Cummings, Peter, David C. Grossman, Frederick P. Rivara, Thomas D. Koepsell (1997). "State Gun Safe Storage Laws and Child Mortality Due to Firearms". Journal of the American Medical Association 278 (13): 1084–1086.).

      • CAP laws are correlated with reducing gun suicides among those aged 14 through 17 by 10.8%, and a reduction of 8.3% by any method.
      (Webster, Daniel, John Vernick, et al. (2004). "Association between Youth-Focused Firearm Laws and Youth Suicides". Journal of the American Medical Association 292 (5): 594–601.).

      • CAP laws are correlated with a reduction of non-fatal gun injuries among both children and adults by 30-40%.

      (DeSimone, Jeff, Sara Markowitz (September 2005). "The Effect of Child Access Prevention Laws on Non-Fatal Gun Injuries". NBER Working Paper No. 11613. National Bureau of Economic Research. http://www.nber.org/papers/W11613.).

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  6. having loaded guns unsecured is asking for crippling accidents and or death to family members or friends its RUSSIAN ROULETTE

    see the link below to see what is possible. Guns for safety need to be secured in a steel lockable gun safe away from children

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfUEONoVoA0

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