In these first six days of August, in less than a week, ten American children were accidentally shot with firearms that should have been inaccessible to them. In 2013, the USA proudly hovered at about 100 children shot unintentionally with firearms that should have been inaccessible to them. And it seems like 2014 may outdo its predecessor.
As of this writing, a Long Island, NY 3-year-old shot in the abdomen was the latest case of a child shot by accident. The father, an officer with the MTA didn’t mean to shoot his son. The child will live, and let’s hope his abdominal injuries don’t plague him with pain and disability for the rest of his life. Does that sound cold? Not as cold as the guy who hid his gun under a house and ran away after a 5-year-old shot a 3-year-old with it.
Details are often murky in cases like these — for some reason adults don’t always want to be open and honest about how such accidents happen. What with responsible gun ownership and all.
Almost half of all gun-owning homes with children have at least one unsecured firearm. Maybe it’s in the nightstand. Maybe it’s on top of the refrigerator. Maybe it’s in a zipped up case at the back of the closet. Maybe it’s in a secret shelf at the bottom of the coffee table. Maybe it’s in the purse hanging by the door. Maybe it’s in a backpack that children have been told never to touch. But in 43% of homes with both firearms and children 14 and under, at least one firearm is unsecured.
That’s why it’s so important to talk to friends, family, neighbors, the parents of your child’s new friend about keeping guns locked up and away from children. As caretakers, we may ask about car seats, allergies, trampolines, pools, pets, helmets, and inhalers. We need to start talking about firearms in the home as well. At a loss? Use this to get the conversation started.
Keep in mind that the sad stories we hear about unintentional shootings of children are the times a bullet hit a child. We don’t hear about the near misses, the walking in on a child before a trigger is pulled. These negligent situations are the easiest form of gun violence to end. There are no politics. There is no excuse. There is no justification. In cases where there are children in a gun-owning home, whether they live there or are visiting, all firearms must be secured — that’s locked away, not hidden super well — and locked and kept away from children.
Oh, and hey. Yeah, BB guns too.
For more information or to read up on your own, here are some documents of varying lengths.
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