The statistics presented in this article are frightening. It raises many questions, the most obvious being could stronger gun control laws have prevented these shootings. First let’s look at where the shootings took place. A New York Times report listed the following statistics showing that 49% of deaths of children by guns happened in their own homes. (Based on a detailed examination of 259 gun deaths of children under 15 from jurisdictions that make death records public, including California, Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio, as well as Bexar, Tarrant and Harris Counties in Texas; Broward and Orange Counties in Florida; and Cook County, Ill. NY Times) More frightening is that 26% of these shootings were self-inflicted.
How does the number of deaths of children from guns compare to other manners of deaths of children? According to Child Help USA more than four children die from child abuse every day. Multiply that by 365 days in a year and you get a significantly lower number of deaths by abuse. It is difficult to consider the number of accidental deaths of children overall because many of the gun deaths may have been recorded as “accidental”.
So we return to the question of gun control and child deaths. Since 49% of these deaths occurred in the child’s home it is safe to say the guns were owned by a family member. These statistics also seems to indicate the guns were accessible to the child/children. We know that are safety measures available to keep weapons out of the hands of children or other irresponsible family members. Why weren’t the guns locked up? Why were they stored loaded and ready to fire? Doesn’t the responsibility fall on the gun owner, usually a parent? Often the weapons were legally purchased. We can only guess why the gun owner felt the need or desire to own a gun. Let’s assume the gun was purchased for home protection. That gives us a gun legally purchased for a logical reason. Would gun control have changed the outcome of these deaths? Probably not. Unless the government is prepared to ban the ownership of all firearms the current laws do not prevent this type of horrible accident.
So what is the answer? Where does the fault lay? Who was responsible for the safe keeping of the gun? The answer is obvious. The gun owner did not take logical and responsible actions to prevent a child from accessing and using an armed weapon. How many of these gun owners have taken classes to be educated not only on the use of guns but the responsibility of owning a weapon? How many of these gun owners owned a gun safe or other mechanism to prevent a child from handling the gun?
Perhaps we need to look at proper training and education and require this to be repeated yearly in order to be licensed. Maybe we should require each gun owner to purchase a gun safe or a gun lock when buying a gun. Put the responsibility on the owner. And if these “accidents” occur due to negligence the owner should be held accountable with significant fines and jail time. Because there are gun owners who do exhibit responsibility and they should not be penalized for the lack of care shown by others.