I’m sure you’ve heard this one: “Curiosity killed the cat.” Curiosity can also kill kids. If something looks interesting, shiny, bright, intriguing or is forbidden, we can count on kids to want to touch it or do it.
That is why no matter what you tell your kids, they are curious about guns and will want to hold them and pretend to shoot them. Of course, in American teens have easy access to guns and we also know that way too often teens bring guns to schools or other places and actually use them to kill others. The fact that this is common is disturbing. It goes against the corporate gun lobby mantra that more guns make us safer. It also is in direct opposition to the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program touted as the way to keep kids safe from loaded guns.
Let’s take a look at why
Eddie Eagle is not doing the trick.
In a Minnesota high school, 2 boys brought a gun to school to see what it was like to “hold” it. One of the teens got the gun from his own house. From the article:
The 16-year-old student told Oakdale police he received the gun from another 16-year-old Tartan student. The student took the gun from his parents’ home and brought it to school so he and his friend could hold it.
“Both students said they were curious about the idea of having a gun and were showing it off,” Oakdale police said in a statement.
So much for teaching kids not to touch guns. Kids are curious. They will touch. Luckily this did not end badly but it certainly could have. Hopefully the irresponsible parents who allowed easy access to a gun will think twice about how they store their guns or even if they should have guns in the home considering that a curious teen already said he wanted to see what it was like to hold a gun. Next time he might do more than just hold it.
A teen in Tempe, Arizona brought a gun to school and shot and killed himself in the school. Where did his gun come from? Easy access to guns makes suicide quick and efficient with no time to reconsider or think about anything. And now a family is grieving for an avoidable death of a son who had potential that will not be realized.
Teen suicide is a serious public health problem in our country. From this article:
- Suicide is one of the 3 leading causes of death for 13- to 19-year-olds in the United States.
- An average of 4 American teenagers commit suicide every day.
Does a gun in the home increase the chance of suicide? YES!
- In states where there are more guns, more people commit suicide.
- Studies have shown that the risk of suicide is 4 to 10 times higher in homes with guns than in those without.
- If the gun is a handgun or is stored loaded or unlocked, the risk of suicide is even higher.
Does it matter how a person tries to commit suicide? YES!
- Suicide attempts with a gun are very likely to be deadly.
- Suicide attempts with drugs or methods other than guns have a greater chance of survival.
Suicide accounts for the majority of gun deaths in America. Shouldn’t we be doing something about that?
A California teen shot and injured herself with her father’s gun. Even officers, apparently don’t get that curious kids and teens will touch guns no matter what you tell them about the dangers. There are risks to having guns around the home. When will “responsible” gun owners get that? How many more of these will we be hearing about and writing about before gun owners understand that if they decide to own a gun they had better decide to own responsibility. With rights come responsibilities. There are no excuses.
Don’t believe the gun lobby rhetoric that guns in the home for self defense will be likely to save you from a home invasion. Those are rare compared to the accidental and intentional shootings with the guns owned for self defense. Do guns come with warning labels? Shouldn’t anyone who purchases a gun be required to go through training? When profits come before saving lives and a sale is more important than a life, this is what we get.
Let’s take a better look at the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program (from the Violence Policy Center): ostensibly for gun safety for kids:
- The primary goal of the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle program is not to safeguard children, but to protect the interests of the NRA and the firearms industry by making guns more acceptable to children and youth. The Eddie Eagle program employs strategies similar to those utilized by America’s tobacco industry—from youth “educational” programs that are in fact marketing tools to the use of appealing cartoon characters that aim to put a friendly face on a hazardous product. The hoped-for result is new customers for the industry and new members for the NRA.
- Violence Policy Center research reveals for the first time that manufacturers of firearms, ammunition, and related products directly contribute hundreds of thousands of tax-deductible dollars to the NRA through its “affiliate,” The NRA Foundation. The Foundation in turn then makes “grants” to the NRA to fund the Eddie Eagle program. Financial contributors to The NRA Foundation include Saturday Night Special or “junk gun” manufacturers, rifle and shotgun manufacturers, and manufacturers of ammunition and reloading equipment. Donation of land of unknown value has also been made by industry members to The NRA Foundation for endowment programs. Industry members have also facilitated the donation of more than a million dollars to the NRA through point-of-purchase dealer and catalog sale programs.
There is much more of interest in this article. I hope you will read it. Marketing guns to kids is a really bad idea. Just like driving a car, they can wait until they are deemed to be more ready for the responsibilities that come with a potentially dangerous product.
Remember this ABC 20/20 program which showed how even though kids whose parents explicitly told them not to touch guns, they did it anyway? I do. It was in direct opposition to what the gun lobby deceptively tells people about their kids and guns. Why? Because they don’t want parents to reconsider a gun sale if they understand the truth about kids and guns.
Anyone with common sense should understand that keeping guns safely secured away from curious kids and teens and those who are suicidal is a really good idea and can save lives. And maybe the parent of the Minnesota teen who got a gun from a friend should have asked if there were guns in the home where their son hung out. Asking saves lives. Check out the ASK Campaign if you don’t believe me. I am betting that these parents wished they had asked because now their son is in a lot of trouble and they should be mortified about the whole thing.
Kids and guns don’t go together no matter what the gun lobby tries to tell you. Their push to get kids comfortable around guns is bunk. Hunting is one thing when accompanied by an adult. But holding and playing with handguns or assault rifles is just not OK. There is no need for a teen to get comfortable with those kinds of guns. Teens can’t think through consequences. Of course, neither can many adults.
It’s past time to change the conversation about the role of guns and gun violence in our communities. Let’s get to work. We can make our kids and communities safer with some and responsibility.