Somebody’s gotta say something

I understand that many Americans revere the 2nd Amendment more than they love life itself (maybe a bit of hyperbole, maybe not), but at what point does someone speak up on the issue of gun safety?  It’s one thing to want to exercise your 2nd Amendment protected right to bear arms, but it’s an entirely different thing to do it safely.

Today, a middle school student killed a teacher and himself while wounding two other students at Sparks Middle School in Reno, Nevada.  There have been other instances recently where kids have gotten their hands on a gun and either shot someone else or shot themselves.  I’m not one to sing the gun control things, but at what point do we begin to demand that gun owners practice safety in conjunction with their ownership?

I have two girls under the age of 6 in my house.  My oldest girl knows not to come anywhere near my guns, and I don’t think she would touch them if I’m not around.  Even thinking that, my guns are always under lock and key when they’re in the house.  The only time they’re not under lock and key is if they are on my person.

In the coming days, we will hear the calls for more gun control laws in the media.  At the same time, we’ll likely hear the same chorus about the government trying to take people’s guns.  What I want to hear from both camps, though, is how we can ensure the almost 300 million guns in circulation are kept in a manner that keeps them out of the hands of kids.

In 2010, 15,576 children and teenagers were injured by firearms — three times more than the number of U.S. soldiers injured in the war in Afghanistan, according to the defense fund.

Nationally, guns still kill twice as many children and young people than cancer, five times as many than heart disease and 15 times more than infection, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

When I hear of stories about a 4-year-old that gets their hands on a gun and shoots themselves, I feel bad for the parents losing a child.  I don’t know how I could deal with such pain.  I also feel anger in that someone would be careless enough to have a gun within the reach of a 4-year-old.  Kids at that age don’t have a clue as to how dangerous or deadly a gun can be. 

• On Christmas 2012, two children accidentally killed themselves with guns. Sincere Tymere Smith, 2, found his father’s weapon in their Conway, S.C., home and pulled the trigger, killing himself. His father was criminally charged. The same day in Memphis, Tenn., 10-year-old Alfreddie Gipson was fatally shot in the stomach after he and his 12-year-old brother found a gun under a mattress. A third brother, 15, had illegally purchased the weapon after being bullied at school.

• In February, another Memphis boy, 4-year-old Joshua Johnson, shot himself and died while playing with a handgun he found in a shoebox. His mother was sleeping nearby. She and her boyfriend were charged with reckless homicide and reckless endangerment, respectively. “This tragedy should be a wake-up call to all gun owners,” Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said at a press conference. “It is your responsibility to make sure children can’t reach or use your guns.”

• About two weeks later and 700 miles away, Michael Easter, 3, found his father’s pistol on top of a dresser and accidentally shot himself in the family’s Liberty Township, Mich., home. The boy’s father works as a sheriff’s deputy.

• In Toms River, N.J., a 4-year-old boy shot and killed his 6-year-old neighbor Brandon Holt with an unsecured rifle in April. The shooter’s dad, Anthony Senatore, was arrested for leaving the gun accessible to children. He plans to contest the charges, but last month Brandon’s grieving parents, Ronald and Christine, also sued Senatore and his wife Melissa for “negligence and recklessness” that led to their son’s death.

One day soon Americans will have to come to terms with our issues with gun safety.  There are no laws that can mandate a gun owner practice safe ownership, and there should be need for such laws to exist.  I feel it is incumbent upon the gun owner to take the responsibility of safety right along with the right to bear arms.  The right to free speech does not eliminate the repercussions of expressing that right, and the right to bear arms also comes with its own set of repercussions.  Those who don’t take heed may end up being a victim of those repercussions due to actions of their own.  Safety is paramount when handling guns, and that safety mindset should also carry over to the storage of those guns as well.  That’s something that has to be almost instinctive, especially if you have kids anywhere near your weapons.



16 thoughts on “Somebody’s gotta say something

  1. I wanted to add something here, Brosephus, but you said it all. There is just NO EARTLY REASON for guns to be within the reach of children!


    • I have seen photos of what gunshots do to kids. I don’t know what I would do if one of my daughters got their hands on any of my guns. I keep them under lock and key, but I can get to them in seconds if I have to protect the family.

      When it was just me and my wife, I didn’t worry that much about leaving a gun in the night stand or on top of it. Now, I feel funny doing that even if I’m home alone.


  2. Just another “sensible gun proprietor,” absolutely nothing to see in this article, move together. Only if those middle schoolers had been armed, this would not have took place., don’t you worry, the NRA will have a press release ready soon, informing us all “” Yeah, appropriate, pull the other one, it offers bells onto it!


  3. You know, the SCOTUS has repeatedly found that time, manner and place restrictions on the practice of free speech and expression are not offensive to the Constitution, and that they are allowable provided:

    *They are narrowly crafted and only as broad as absolutely necessary

    *They serve a valid state, local or Federal interest

    *They have to be content-neutral

    Surely the Founders never intended for absolute and total freedom of expression at all times and in all circumstances; that would make such things as defamation, fighting words, terroristic threats and obscenity completely lawful. So with that in mind, how can anyone claim that firearm regulation (especially in view of how many kids we’re losing to gunplay each year) is an offense against our liberties?

    I’ll spare you my bulletproof Constitutional argument, but I’d love to hear how the same sorts of restrictions are cool for the First Amendment, but not on the Second. Assuming anyone here is down with the NRA’s take on things, of course.


    • You won’t hear that argument from me. IIRC, Scalia has even stated that the right to bear arms is not absolute. The only limitation I’ve seen placed on the 2nd is in regards to convicted felons, and I think Louisiana passed a law that’s supposed to give felons the right to possess firearms.


  4. I was raised in a home where there were always loaded guns in the house and I always knew where they were (this is from about age 3-4, where I have pretty clear memories). I also knew I would get my ass blistered if I went anywhere near them, unless Daddy was around and supervising. Age 5 is when I learned to shoot and I wasn’t allowed to use firearms alone, until I was in my early teens. The safety aspect was drilled into or heads from day one. Just a few basic rules, every gun is treated as a loaded gun, never shoot unless you are sure of your target and what’s behind it, until you shoot, always keep your muzzle pointed at the ground, etc.

    The problem is a lack of responsibility among adults. Unfortunately, the government can’t really make adults act responsibly (see any number of topics for examples). The only thing they can really do is punish people, after the fact.

    I don’t know the facts about yesterday’s incident but the elephant in the room with most of these things is our mental health system. That’s what really needs to be looked at, in my opinion.


    • I’m totally cool with temporarily voiding the firearms ownership rights of individuals who demonstrate or claim mental illness that might lead to them harming themselves or others. The problem is that without any sort of reliable registry, it’s impossible to know what (if any) firearms an individual has in their home even if they do present as someone who can’t be trusted with a piece in the house.

      And that’s another complication as well. Suppose Aunt Betty, who’s getting a little loopy in her old age, gets adjudged incompetent to own or possess a weapon. What, then, do we do with Uncle Chester’s guns if he’s still of sound mind? If Aunt Betty can still get at Chester’s weapons despite her condition, we haven’t done anyone any good. Then again, it’s not fair to Chester to restrict his rights just because Betty isn’t safe around a firearm.


    • The mental health issue is a big one, but I think safety sits right alongside of that one. If people took the extra few seconds/minutes to lock their weapons away, these kids wouldn’t be able to get their hands on them so easily. I know once it gets to teenagers and such, that becomes a bit more difficult, but I don’t think it’s impossible.


      • I think that may be a stumbling block for some pro-gun folks. Securing a weapon where a child or other unauthorized person can’t get at it means that the owner has to take that much more time to get the weapon in hand in an emergency. I’m being completely serious here — I think that some folks see *anything* that keeps them from getting that piece in their hand toot sweet is automatically some sort of risky infringement that they can’t accept.


        • I understand that thought process, but I do not agree with it at all. Even under lock and key, I can get to my case within 3-5 seconds from laying flat in bed.

          I had a “test run”, if you want to call it that, a while back. A few of the local police came knocking on my door late one night. Before they knocked, they were shining flashlights through the front door. My daughter woke my wife and I up because the lights scared her. It didn’t take 5 seconds from the time I saw the light to me having gun in hand and peering over the balcony to see what was going on.

          If you don’t train, you won’t know what to do when the flying fecal matter hits the oscillating wind generating machine anyway. Training also involves going over safety issues as well.


      • With all due respect, I think the focus is on the wrong thing. When I refer to mental illness, I’m talking about the fact that there are a lot of people who don’t need to be walking the streets. Years ago, we let a lot of people with mental problems out, in an over-reaction to justified abuses.

        I’ve dealt with this problem personally and it’s damn near impossible to get a person committed to mental health facilities unless they agree to it. I had a relative who was like this and went around threatening people all the time. This involved multiple jurisdictions from Atlanta all the way to the state line. The answer was always the same when you turned to law enforcement, “Well, he hasn’t done anything yet”. Fortunately, he died a natural death without ever triggering any kind of incident. I always figured he would eventually threaten somebody who didn’t know him, they would take him at his word and kill him. Luckily that never happened but it very well could have and I really wouldn’t have blamed whomever he threatened.

        We’ve got mentally ill people walking the streets (a large segment of the homeless population, for example) and filling the prisons, yet we do nothing about it.

        I’m not for registering firearms; never have been and never will be. It’s a feel good solution that avoids the real issue, in my opinion.


        • No argument from me there, and I agree with you. The reason I say safety is that we have an estimated 300 million guns in circulation in this country, and I’m willing to bet that there’s a great chunk of them that are not secured in any shape form or fashion.

          Take the mental illness issue and toss in easy to obtain guns, and that is a recipe for disaster that we’ve seen time and time again. I think every recent mass shooting we’ve had here has been tied to mental illness IIRC.

          I don’t think a registry solves anything at all, and it only adds to needless paperwork and bureaucracy. The only good a registry would do would be to trace weapons used in crimes after the fact, and I think prevention is much better than investigation afterwards.

          Luckily, I haven’t had to deal with issues such as yours on a regular basis. I honestly hope to never have to either. I don’t see anything being done about the mental illness part though as we can’t even get politicians to fund the government in a timely fashion. I think it’s one of those “it’s not my problem, so I’m not getting involved” type issues.


  5. Howzit goin’ Bro?

    I thought there were some states that have laws requiring safe storage of weapons in the home. Seems like I remember parents being prosecuted for failure to safely secure their weapons.

    Anyhoo, maybe there could be a law whereby manufacturers must provide one of ^^^ those boxes for free with each gun. Maybe it’s the added cost that deters people from securing their weapons. Buy a gun…get a safe box. If a gun is sold without a box, a hefty fine could be applied.

    Just like with vouchers…the box follows the gun.



    • Hey!! I think there was an attempt at such legislation, but I don’t recall it being signed into law. There was also the attempt to require trigger locks with firearm purchases, but they can be a bit cumbersome.

      I have been looking at the pros and cons of the biometric lock boxes for a future upgrade. For home protection, I think you have to be able to get the cabinet/safe unlocked almost instinctively. Years ago, I looked into getting a FFL to sell guns, but I changed my mind because of the lack of emphasis on safety by some. I would feel awful if I knew that I had sold a gun that ended up in the hands of a child with tragic results.

      BTW… thanks for coming through. I have to warn you that emoticons are active here. (ISH)


  6. My brother and I learned to shoot at ages 6 and 8, respectively. Within a few years we got huge illicit kicks from the occasional episodes in which we smuggled Dad’s gun out of the house to go down to the creek and look for something to shoot. We lived on a one-lane dirt road and we knew how to shoot safely. If Dad had found out, there would have been a reckoning, but mostly it would have been over our not asking permission. It would never have occurred to us to take a gun to school, and Mom and Dad would have whipped us bloody if we had. Times have changed in many ways.

    I think we need to make it easy, easy, easy for victims of gun violence to sue. If gun owners started getting socked with huge punitive damage awards, they’d eventually start carrying insurance. And once insurance companies got into it, there’d be a nationwide database and a culture of deep respect for gun safety just about overnight. We need to take a lesson from the MADD people.


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