How Can We Reduce Accidental Shootings By Children?
By Victoria Ipri, Staff Writer
In one week in April, four small children accidentally killed themselves with guns. Another child pulled a gun from under the seat of the car and shot her mother to death.
At a time when these children should be playing in schoolyards, learning to tie their shoes, and exploring the joys of ice cream, they are gone, along with at least thirty others of this 3-4 year old age group who met the same sad fate. In 2015, 278 unintentional shootings took place involving guns in the hands of very young children. (Everytown For Gun Safety)
Granted, while even researchers agree this April week was especially brutal, the questions must be asked: how can these accidental shootings be reduced? Should manufacturers be required to install safety protections that prevent accidental firing of guns? It matters little how these children gained access to guns. What matters is the maddening frequency with which these deaths are occurring, and what can be done to make it stop.
Experts claim these are not tragic accidents, but preventable deaths. After all, twenty-seven states impose laws holding adults responsible for allowing unsupervised access to their guns. (Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence) Gun advocates, however, say such deaths represent huge gaps in gun safety laws. While many states require the sale of gun locks with gun purchases and locked gun storage, and other states allow gun owners to decide how and where to store their guns, gun advocates argue that trigger locks can fail, mandatory storage is clunky in an emergency (putting the adult in danger), and many proposed security features infringe upon Second Amendment rights.
In actuality, the majority of Americans, including NRA members, support reasonable gun control, such as those specifically sanctioned as constitutional by the Supreme Court. (http://bit.ly/JohnHopkinsGunSafety) As well, gun manufacturers could make significant contributions to reducing the dearth of accidental shootings by children by installing specific safety features on weapons. So-called “smart guns” are being developed based on a variety of technologies from chips to biometrics…even guns that could be disabled remotely. And while the gun lobby is not opposed to smart gun development, they are concerned that such a product on the market could cause the government to mandate such technology be included for all firearms.
Many good people own guns. These same people have children. It is unreasonable to mandate that all childrens’ environments should be gun-free. Perhaps what is needed instead is a sharper focus on intelligent precautions, along with a rallying cry to all American adults to put aside political views in favor of standing together behind sensible gun safety laws that protect our country’s adults of the future.
A recent documentary style movie - Under the Gun - narrated by Katie Couric discusses gun violence in depth and is worth watching for anyone seriously interested in this issue.