According to U.S. government figures, the majority of gun deaths that occur in this country are caused by homicide and suicide. For example: In the U.S. for 2001, there were 29,573 deaths from firearms, distributed as follows by mode of death: Suicide 16,869; Homicide 11,348. During that same time period, 802 individuals died due to accidental gun related deaths. Half the victims involved were children (individuals under 18 years of age). Author Jennifer Dionne’s article reviews the accidental gun death among children issue. She also provides some valuable information that will help teach, prevent and guide parents to make appropriate decisions regarding guns and children.
Prevent Accidental Gun Accidents With Children
Lately there seems to be a renewed debate amongst the parenting community about gun control. I have read numerous articles and seen many programs on the issue. Most suggest that guns should not be in a home with children and if you must have guns in the home then they need to be properly stored and locked up. This will prevent the majority of the accidental deaths involving children playing with guns.
Most failed to mention the real reason why kids die around guns: NO BODY TEACHES THEM ABOUT GUNS. Ignorant people are usually the most dangerous. Kids should be taught by adults 1) what guns are, that they are dangerous, that they are not toys and not to play with them 2) how to use a gun so then kids will know if the safety is on or off (most parents don’t even know there is a safety) and they can prevent accidents by their friends.
Contrary to popular belief, not all gun owners are back-woods ultra conservative freaks with gun racks all over their houses. Most are responsible adults who use guns for their intended purposes: hunting, recreational use, personal protection, etc.
If kids were taught by their parents how to use a gun properly and what a gun is actually used for instead of relying on TV to teach their children, then accidents would be significantly reduced. It is my right as a US citizen to own a gun; however, with gun ownership does come responsibility to teach kids what a gun is for and how to use one, which I think is where the breakdown happens between parents and their kids. If kids were taken to a shooting range and actually shown what a real gun can do, that it can kill, they would quickly realize it is not a toy.
Moreover, if kids shot a gun, the impression left would make them think before picking one up. Talking about guns isn’t enough. That’s why kids should take a gun safety class, learn about guns, and actually be taught how to handle one properly. The notion that kids will steer clear of guns is ridiculous. As we all know, if kids want to do something, be it drugs, sex, or play with guns, they will find a way to do it. Parents who think they can protect their kids 100% of the time from the real world live in a delusional world. As for me, I intend to educate my kids about the real dangers in life and not leave it to chance that I will prevent them handling a gun.
Not having guns in the home is not going to prevent accidents. I think adults that properly own and use guns are invaluable to teaching kids about them. How can someone who has never fired a gun talk to kids about them? Saying that guns are dangerous is not enough. Until you have shot at something or hunted something or used a gun for what it was meant to do, you cannot know what guns are like. I myself have never fired a gun; however, I fully intend to take Hunter’s Safety class and have my husband teach me and my daughters when they are old enough about weapons. It has been one of my deep desires to learn about guns and I aim to do so.
The notion that locking guns up properly so kids won’t gain access to guns is a flawed concept in my view as well. As before, if kids want to do something, they will find a way. They will find a way to gain access to your locked case by finding the key, etc. We all know as parents that a forbidden object is even more coveted by children. Again, education is the key to lowering the number of accidental gun deaths in the United States.
This article was submitted by Jennifer Dionne. Her website is http://www.loveofparenting.com, a comprehensive view of pregnancy and parenting. She is a stay-at-home mom who is passionate about helping other moms through the challenges of motherhood. She is the author of “How to Have a Baby Your Way”, which is available through her website.