Category Archives: Guns. Yee-Haw

Gun Safety? Get real.

8/8/2013: My IndyStar published response to the awful news from Anderson, Indiana:

I can’t write an article every time a child is needlessly killed by a gun. If I did, I would probably have to quit my job due to the time commitment involved. Just in the last six weeks, in central Indiana, three kids have been accidentally killed. The latest fatality, however, emphasizes a point that we just can’t seem to grasp: THERE IS NO 100% SAFE WAY TO STORE A GUN.

The guns were hidden (in a closet).

The guns were locked away.

The bullets were separate from the gun.

The gun was unloaded….almost.

One bullet, unknowingly and accidentally left in the chamber, is what stands between a 13 year old honor student from going back to school today, shot yesterday by his 10 year old brother.

But we still don’t get it.

The Anderson Police department has called the case ‘a perfect storm of unlikely scenarios,’ musing that “had (the bullet) been in another chamber, it would have dry fired. The odds are just really unbelievable.” They are pleading with area residents to please keep your guns safe, even offering free gun locks.

Unbelievable odds? Nope. They are possibilities. Possibilities of your child getting killed. What a stupid game to play.

I am sick for this family. They have been given the delusion by gun advocates, and even the Anderson police department, that there is a safe way to store guns around children. There isn’t. Are there safer ways to store guns? Who cares?

Once again…

1) A gun kept in the home is 43 times more likely to kill someone known to the family than to kill someone in self defense.

2) A gun kept in the home triples the risk of homicide

3) The risk of suicide is 5 times more likely if a gun is kept in the home

Please stop kidding yourself, and each other, that there is a safe way to keep a gun in a home with children.

Enough anecdotes. The truth about kids and guns

Media loves social experiments.  It’s the driving theme for a lot of shows, from “Let’s Make a Deal,” to the thought provoking, “What Would You Do?”

Tonight (Friday, 1/31/14) on ABC’s 20/20, hosted by Diane Sawyer, an experiment is conducted in which young children are exposed to “gun safety” programs, then observed via hidden camera to see how they would react to discovering a real gun. Their goal is to dramatically reveal the often unrealistic parental expectations of their child around guns.

Here is the preview: http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/young-guns-diane-sawyer-special-21694484

I always try my best to take the findings from a television show with a heavy grain of salt. After all drama, and often sensationalism, is usually the name of the game. This program, however, is actually a replica of a study published in the respected medical journal Pediatrics back in 2001.

The background was a survey of 400 parents, who were asked if their child (age 4-12) could determine the difference between a toy and real gun, and how they would then behave with the guns. Three-fourths (74%) believed their child could tell the difference between a real gun and a toy. 74% also believed they would leave the gun alone, or tell an adult.

The experiment consisted of watching 2-3 children play for 15 minutes in a room where a real, unloaded gun was placed in one drawer, and toy guns in another (they were not told to look into the drawers). 75% of the kids found the real gun. Of these, 80% handled the gun, and 50% pulled the trigger. 90% of the kids who handled the gun, and 95% that had pulled the trigger, later revealed that they had received some sort of gun-safety training. It didn’t matter whether the child was from a gun-owning family, or whether the child had remarked earlier that he or she was ‘interested’ in guns.

Absolutely, I think it reasonable to consider the results from tonight as “made for TV;” however the results from this study are not. Please remember  to teach your child: STOP! Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.

IndyPedsDoc

@IndyPedsDoc

When it comes to guns and kids, leave your politics at the door

Perusing social media, I strayed upon this blog article posted by a friend, summarizing “something bad could always happen.” Here, a mom left her 12 year old in the car while running in to a bank. Tragically, the mother was then killed by a bank robber, while the 12 year old was unharmed. This, of course, was on the heels of recent arrests for parents that unknowingly left their children in their cars. Her point? Voicing out against laws* that infringe on our autonomy (maximum freedom, minimum government), she argues:

“There is risk in everything in life. Punishing parents who make rational decisions just because something bad couldhappen is not going to change that. Something bad could always happen.”

This popular argument always seems to come up when defending guns in the home with children.

A couple of examples:

pic1 blog

And here (in response to same article):

blog pic2

So we’re missing the point.

‘Que sera, sera’ is certainly a fun Instagram #yolo, but it makes for really lousy parenting. Yep, something bad could always happen, and accidents do happen. We accept this, and do our best to weight and minimize these risks wherever possible. Bike helmets, seatbelts, fences around pools, etc. This is ok. This is parenting. Guns are no exception. Leaving you kid in the car unattended is no exception.

Instead, some seem to suggest it’s fine to ignore risk, because ‘something bad could always happen.’ In reality, though, I think they are ignoring risk because it gets in the way of their politics. This is really selfish, and it’s jeopardizing the safety of children. And for what? The right for an adult to keep a gun in the house with children? An opportunity to decry a state law infringing personal autonomy? When it comes to protecting the lives and safety of children, we need to keep our politics to ourselves. It’s distorting our perception of risk, which isn’t fair to our kids.

 

*This particular case, by the way, I’m pretty sure isn’t illegal. Most laws, in the states that do have laws, pertain to children under 7, and usually only under certain dangerous situations. See here for your state’s law. http://www.kidsandcars.org/state-laws.html