Three tragic gun deaths have made news recently. In the first, an Iowa mother was shot by her two year old child, who discovered a loaded gun in her purse. In another, a Florida two year old shot himself when he found a loaded gun in the glove compartment of his parents’ car. In a third, a five year old shot his 9-month old brother. These incidents are just three examples of the approximately 550 accidental firearm deaths that occur annually in the United States.
The reaction to these tragedies is often similar to that of a sheriff in the Florida county where the two year old boy died:
“It’s just one of those things that happens where everything happens the wrong way.”
Such statements leave the impression that these deaths are the result of a series of random events and could not be avoided. In fact, most accidental firearms deaths can be prevented by following simple safety rules. Guns should always be kept unloaded and locked up, especially where children are present. Unfortunately, 43% of gun-owning households with children under 18 do not take these precautions.
As these recent incidents demonstrate, children as young as two are strong enough to pull a trigger and have the dexterity and curiosity to do so. We protect children from medications by storing them in child-proof containers. We keep harmful cleaning products and chemicals safely out of reach of kids. Surely it makes sense to take even stronger measures with a deadly weapon. These simple steps would protect children and their families and spare them the unbearable grief of a heartbreaking, but avoidable, loss.