Right. So it should be no puzzle that so many people who own guns and claim they are safe with them have so many accidents with legally owned guns. But it is puzzling, given this reality, that we aren't taking measures to change the way we do things. Guns have become a product treated cavalierly and without the respect and responsibility owed to a product dangerous enough to kill another human being. It is my contention that anyone who buys a gun from any place must have training on how to use the gun and also how to make sure it is safety stored. So I'm puzzled as to why this doesn't happen. And young kids and even teens are not old enough to take on that responsibility even sometimes with adult supervision.
Some parents expose their very young children on purpose to guns. I have even seen photos from Facebook pages that get passed around of babies holding guns- taken as a joke or supposedly "cute" by their parents. The thing is, it's not cute. Some parents actually give their very young children guns of their own, made by the clever gun manufacturers for children. The child-sized "assault" rifle for example. This video mocks the actual product. But it's for real. You may remember when this little Kentucky boy got his very own assault rifle as a gift and shot his sister with it. She really is not in a better place no matter what her family says. Guns are not for kids. In some undeveloped countries children are forced against their will to become citizen soldiers. Remember the movie Blood Diamond? Tragic to say the least. That is not America- is it?
Safe storage of this gun in the home of a Minnesota family would have meant that we wouldn't have read this headline: Wadena Boy, 14, shot in head while "messing around" with handgun. What is wrong with this picture? A lot, of course. This headline clears it up: "Wadena boy accidentally shot in head was playing a game...." From the article we learn:
Playing a game? Where do kids get ideas like this? Guns are not toys and should not be treated as such. Where were the parents? Why was this gun laying around for these 2 kids to mess around with when the parents were not at home? What do these kids see at home? What have they been taught about guns and gun safety? And even if they were taught about gun safety, kids and teens are curious and no matter what you tell them, they will get their hands on a gun if it's easy enough to do. It is just not enough to talk to kids about guns and not touching them. When there are kids and teens in the home, people with guns must practice safety and secure their guns locked away from ammunition and unloaded. But if you ascribe to the paranoid fear of the corporate gun lobby, perhaps you think a loaded gun is a must to stop a random burglary or home invasion. Those are very rare indeed.Further investigation by the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s office into the accidental shooting of a 14-year-old boy near here Thursday has revealed he was playing a game with a .38 caliber revolver when he was struck in the head by a self-inflicted gunshot.The accident at his rural residence about five miles north of Bluffton or 10 miles northwest of Wadena occurred about 8:30 a.m.. The victim’s 12-year-old brother was the only other family member at home at the time of the accident.The sheriff’s department said it’s not known if the victim knew there was a live round in the weapon.
Guns in the home are much more likely to be used to harm someone in the home than to ward off a criminal:
Many would disagree with that last sentence. But I am wondering if the parents of the 14 year old Wadena boy regret their decision to leave their gun around for a teen to access.Having a gun in your home significantly increases your risk of death — and that of your spouse and children.And it doesn’t matter how the guns are stored or what type or how many guns you own.If you have a gun, everybody in your home is more likely than your non-gun-owning neighbors and their families to die in a gun-related accident, suicide or homicide.Furthermore, there is no credible evidence that having a gun in your house reduces your risk of being a victim of a crime. Nor does it reduce your risk of being injured during a home break-in.The health risks of owning a gun are so established and scientifically non-controvertible that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in 2000 recommending that pediatricians urge parents to remove all guns from their homes.Notice that the recommendation doesn’t call for parents to simply lock up their guns. It stresses that the weapons need to be taken out of the house.
And more, from the article:
Children aged 5 to 14 in the United States are 11 times more likely to die from an accidental gunshot wound than children in other developed countries.
Nonfatal gun injuries occur at the average rate of 20 a day in the United States — and that doesn’t include pellet-gun injuries (which average 45 day) or injuries that don’t involve a bullet wound (like powder burns and recoil injuries).
“One study of nonfatal accidental shootings found that the majority were self- inflicted, most involved handguns, and more than one third of the injuries required hospitalization,” writes Hemenway. “Injuries often occurred during fairly routine gun handling — cleaning a gun, loading and unloading, target shooting, and so on.”If the Wadena boy survives his injuries, he may have life long physical and emotional problems associated with his gunshot injury. And that will cost us all a lot of money. Gun injuries are expensive:
I could, of course, write volumes about kids and access to guns. I have written a lot of words on the topic as have the many others of us who are just asking for some common sense. For a while I contributed to the Kid Shootings blog but those of us writing couldn't keep up with the volume of shooting incidents of and by kids. The one thing we always said on that blog was; "Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult." Also the Ohh Shoot blog keeps track of "accidental" gun discharges. One recent post was about 3 toddler shootings in just one week! Yes, I said 3 toddlers got their hands on guns and shot someone with a gun in just one week. In what other democratized country not at war does this happen? It's a puzzle for sure. This is the America we have. Is this the America we want or deserve?It costs over $2 billion a year in hospital charges to treat victims of firearms-related injuries.That was the major finding of a study released today at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA).The high figure underlines the need to treat gun violence in the U.S. as a public health issue as well as a law enforcement challenge, according to physicians and advocacy groups contacted by The Crime Report.“We are talking about huge numbers of people being hurt every year,” said Dr. Eric Fleegler, an emergency pediatric physician at Boston Children’s Hospital who has published extensive research on firearm injuries and mortality.“These are not just problems for an individual but also an incredible burden on our healthcare system."
It is possible to be safer from gun injuries and deaths. It is possible to protect our children from devastating gun injuries and deaths. Safe storage of guns is just one of the many ways to accomplish this. We can save lives if we think about it and separate this safety issue from the politics and the ugliness of the usual "conversation."
11 states have laws concerning safe storage and/or devices for locking gun triggers. If you look at this link to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence you will also see that the majority of school shooters get their guns from their own homes or from someone they know. It is crucial for so many reasons to lock up guns at home. Also at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence you can find where states have passed Child Access Prevention Laws, my own being one of them. Too often parents or adults are not charged under this law because of the pain and guilt already experienced by the adults who allowed a child access to a gun and shot him/herself or a friend or relative. But one case in Minnesota was prosecuted successfully.
I ran across this article moments after I posted this so I am going to now include it as yet another example of irresponsible adults allowing kids access to guns. In New Jersey, a girl is in the hospital after being shot in the stomach by her brother while the mother was showering. Yes, she was a nice lady and a "good" mother. Or was she? This wouldn't have happened if she had been good enough to think through the potential consequences of leaving a loaded gun around the house unsecured. It is just one more tragic, avoidable and senseless example of why guns need to be stored, unloaded, where young hands can't get them.
Check out projectchildsafe.org and take the quiz regarding gun safety and safe storage of guns. As is written on this site, this is something everyone can agree on. The Brady Campaign and other organizations are also working on this. Check out the new Brady Campaign's project- Imagine a Future where no child is killed with a parent's gun. We should be able to imagine this, right? The Brady Campaign has also launched The Truth about Kids and Guns. I suggest reading about how easy access to guns is killing our kids and how we can change that. Yes, we can make our communities safer. Yes, we can prevent the devastation of gun deaths and injuries.
Lock up the guns.
Let's get to work and save lives. This is a puzzle we can solve. We are better than what we are now doing.
Sadly the Wadena, Minnesota teen who "accidentally" shot himself in the head while playing games with a gun has died of his gunshot injuries.
A Florida father got a 10 year probation sentence for allowing his 3 year old daughter to access his gun and shoot and kill herself with it. From the article:
Lock up your guns. It isn't worth the pain and anguish suffered by these parents.While her father was in another room, Zuri had picked up Chambers' loaded 9 mm semi-automatic pistol off a table in the house on the 1200 block of North O Street. She accidentally shot herself in the head.Chambers, who left the West Palm Beach courtroom, without speaking to reporters, has already moved with his wife and 1-year-old daughter to Portland, Ore. to try to rebuild their lives, defense attorney Michelle Suskauer said.Thomas Chambers (left) leaves a Palm Beach County courtroom Tuesday with his defense attorney Michelle Suskauer. Chambers, 41, was sentenced to 10 years probation after pleading guilty to manslaughter for the Feb. 13 accidental gunshot death of his daughter, Zuri, 3, in Lake Worth. (Marc Freeman/Sun Sentinel)"This is the worst thing that can happen to anyone, to lose a child, especially in this fashion," Suskauer said. "It's a heartbreaking situation. There really isn't any penalty that you can craft that is worse than what he has to live with for the rest of his life."