Saturday, January 7, 2006

Kids and guns

When my two oldest children were very young, I swore that they'd never have toy guns. Guns are not toys and children shouldn't be led to believe that they are, ever. Of course, everyone thought I was crazy and would contradict me at every gift-giving holiday or birthday, and buy them a toy gun of one sort or another. My worry was always that they'd get a hold of the real thing, and not know the difference and mistake it for a toy, and shoot themselves or someone else. I fought it for years, argued and raised hell on many an occasion. Eventually, I was basically overruled and somewhere along the line, guns became allowed by proxy. Apparently, society says boys just should have a gun, a toy gun, a BB gun, some sort of gun, lest they grow up to lack manliness.

I am also against guns in homes where there are children. It isn't that I don't believe in our constitutional rights, it's that I don't believe that people are responsible enough, or constantly aware enough to have guns and children in their homes at the same time, and keep the kids safe from the guns. My 14 yr old son Kory came to me today with a story that reminded me why I feel this way. He was on the phone with a friend of his who had just told him that a friend of theirs from school, a 13 year old boy, was shot in the head yesterday by his 10 yr old sister.

There were 4 children and a gun in the home - with no adult supervision. I will never know what the circumstances were, whether the gun was locked up or not, because let's face it, teenagers are old enough to unlock a guncase. We'll never know if it was loaded or unloaded, because they could have done that too. All we'll really know is that there are 2 parents whose world was torn apart by the loss of a child, there's a 10 year old little girl who will live the rest of her life with the knowledge that she killed her brother, there are three children who have to deal with that experience, that mental image, that memory. What we know is - an entire family was devastated in a matter of a split second, and all because of the mixture of children and a gun.


  1. So I'm not the only one who thinks kids shouldn't have toy guns... let alone have a real gun in the house with children. That incident is absolutely terrifying. To know that kids are still killing each other (accidentally) in this day with as much awareness is put out there... HORRIBLE. When will people learn?

  2. My dad is a real gun enthusiast. He must have twenty guns or more in his home. I'm on the opposite side of the spectrum. I hate guns, they creep me out in ways unimaginable. I don't even like to look at or admire them with him, although I can appreciate his hobby. The only thing he's ever shot in his life was either eaten or made of paper.

    While I hate guns, and the idea of children being around them, he does keeps them all in a gun safe that looks like something you'd store the holy grail in, and Steven has already taken gun safety classes. I guess that's the safest you can be, eh? Teach them from a young age and keep them locked up at all times.

    I guess what I'm getting at is that watching my dad handle guns makes me realize that there ARE responsible gun owners in this world. They're probably the exception, though. I think there are WAY too many idiots with firearms in this world, and that's where the problem lies.

  3. I think RESPONSIBLE gun owners are the RULE rather than the exception. There are millions of gun owners in America but we only hear of a few dozen instances like you reported each year. If responsible gun owners were a minority then these kinds of shootings would happen dozens of times each day. I keep my 30 or so guns locked inside a hardened steel vault that would require several strong men to lift and a blow-torch to open. Far more children die from ingesting household chemicals or drugs left lying around the house than die from gun shots. Far more children die from automobile accidents than from guns.

    That said, as a responsible gun owner, any child that dies from a gun shot is one child too many and one or more adults SHOULD be held responsible for the death just as if they had killed the child themselves.

    Where's the key to my gun vault? On my person, in my pocket, always.

    But I agree, guns are not toys and should never be treated as such. I got my first BB gun as an adult even though I'd owned real guns for years prior. I never gave toy guns to my son either. When he was eleven I bought him his first rifle. When he unwrapped the box it was in, he found it had a trigger lock already installed. The gun was impossible to fire without first removing the trigger lock. He got a key to the trigger lock only after he became a legal adult and had been given several other firearms-- all with trigger locks installed. Until he was an adult I kept one key to the trigger lock and his grandfather kept the only other key. His grandfather and I taught him gun safety above all else and never allowed him to show his guns to other kids unless he was with us. (He couldn't get them out of the vault.)

    We never fired the guns around other kids (or other adults) or allowed other kids to fire them as I believe the introduction to guns should only be handled by skilled parents or trained professionals. Rule #1. Never turn a child loose with a BB gun as a BB gun IS a real gun and should be treated as such. #2. Never point a gun at ANYTHING you don't intend to shoot, #3. Never put your finger in the trigger hole unless you've already taken aim and are ready to shoot, and rule #4. target practice and hunting should be a lonely exercise with as few people as possible. (There are more rules but those are the big 4.) My grandfather allowed my uncles to hunt alone by the time they were eleven years old, but he forbid them to hunt with anyone else even into adulthood. That meant that they had to alternate days and hunt only on the days they were scheduled to hunt leaving the others behind to work the farm and the sawmill. (Or go to school) And no friends were allowed to hunt with them. He also expected them to bring back supper or to return with the vast majority of ammo they left home with. (A few misses were allowed but ammo was expensive and not to be wasted.)