Mediaite's Tommy Christopher believes he's seeing an epidemic of child-related shootings in recent days. He identifies twelve accidental shootings by children -- nine involving toddlers -- in the month of April. And the string of tragedies continues, with news of a three year-old boy shooting and killing himself in Florida with his uncle's 9mm. Although the gun was left carelessly in a backpack, the state had deemed Jeffrey Walker a "responsible gun owner" and granted him a concealed carry permit. The uncle's gun, no doubt carried out of concern for safety, did absolutely nothing to protect his loved ones against a child's curiosity. This Officially Responsible Gun Owner was arrested and charged with culpable negligence for exposing a minor to a firearm -- a felony.
Christopher's list of incidents is horrifying, including a ten-month-old infant shot in the face by a three year-old and a "four year-old who shot and killed his aunt in a room full of adults, including a sheriff’s deputy who was also a school resource officer."
Christopher includes in his report a "disturbing statistic" from a story about a six year-old shot in the chest by her brother:
According to the Children’s Defense Fund, one-third of all households with children younger than 18 have a gun, and more than 40 percent of gun-owning households with children store their guns unlocked.
The fund also reported that 22 percent of children with gun-owning parents handled guns in their homes without their parents’ knowledge.
Which begs the question: is this a sudden epidemic child-related gun violence or is this just the bloody background noise to American life -- a constant string of tragedies that have become so normal here that we don't give it any more thought than car accidents?
It didn't take much digging to get my answer.
USA Today: In 2010, 15,576 children and teenagers were injured by firearms — three times more than the number of U.S. soldiers injured in the war in Afghanistan, according to [the Children's Defense Fund].
Nationally, guns still kill twice as many children and young people than cancer, five times as many than heart disease and 15 times more than infection, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
"We see guns as much of a threat in their life as we used to see bacteria and viruses," said Dr. Judith S. Palfrey, a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the co-author of the New England journal report. "If you look at what's actually killing children and disabling children, guns is one of the major things."
This is nothing new. In 2012, Reuters reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics was calling for "strictest possible regulation of gun sales, as well as more education for parents on the dangers of having a gun at home, to prevent deaths of kids and teens." And even if you're an extremely cautious gun owner, locking your guns away in a gun safe or using trigger locks, you're not statistically doing any good. A 2006 study reports, "Parents who locked their guns away and discussed gun safety with their children were as likely to be contradicted as parents who did not take such safety measures."
In other words, it makes no difference how difficult you make it for kids to get a hold of your guns -- there are so many reckless gun owners out there that your neighbor's carelessness probably cancels you out. And the people who think they've taught their children not to handle guns stand a good chance of being wrong. The same report tells us, "Many parents who were living in homes with firearms and who reported that their children had never handled firearms in their homes were contradicted by their children's self-reports."
No, it's not a sudden epidemic. "People tend to only pay attention to gun safety issues after these mass killings but this is happening all the time to our children and it’s totally preventable," says Angela Sauaia, M.D., Ph.D., of the Colorado School of Public Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine and author of a study on children and guns.
This is the wallpaper in American life -- so constant that we don't see it any longer. A blood soaked status quo where children are sacrificed to some twisted version of "liberty" and -- in a demented and cruel irony -- a completely erroneous conception of personal safety. How many of these firearms that resulted in the deaths of children were supposedly there to protect the family?
We do things about childhood cancer. We fight it. But firearms result in more dead kids in America than cancer -- by a 2:1 ratio -- and people tell us we're completely helpless to do anything about it. For these gun worshipping morons, the answer to gun violence is always more guns. But how do you use a gun to protect a toddler from an unsecured gun? Do you shoot the kid to stop her from shooting herself? Unsecured guns are the problem and it's time we dealt with it.
And can we please put the myth of the "responsible gun owner" being the majority to bed? When studies show that American guns are so loosely secured that locking up your own guns is statistically meaningless in protecting your children, we can safely assume that a huge percentage of gun owners do not deal with their firearms responsibly. If responsible gun owners will have to be inconvenienced by gun safety regulations, then it sucks to be you. But frankly, I don't care. Blame the massive percentage of gun owners who are clowns, not the people who want to protect their kids from those clowns. Put the blame where the blame belongs; not with the regulators, but with the irresponsible and incautious dopes who leave firearms where anyone can get at them. If I just described you (and if you're a gun owner, there's a good chance I did), then too bad -- you suck. Take that energy you're using to be so offended and use it to do something about all your stupidly easily accessible firearms.
We have to have priorities. Putting the safety of children above the ability for any moron to have as many guns laying around as they want is responsible prioritizing. If you own firearms and you don't see that, then you're not a responsible gun owner. As we've already established, you suck.
[photo by spaceabstract]