Myth #5 - "Guns are too dangerous to own if you've got children."

Myth #5 - "Guns are too dangerous to own if you've got children."

The death of children, whether by abuse, neglect, homicide, suicide, or accident, is a particular tragedy, because for most children their safety is dependent on adults to protect them from harm. This responsibility for protecting children is primarily that of their parents, as it is for so much of their physical, emotional, and intellectual sustenance. As with any potentially dangerous item in the home, it is the responsibility of parents to do their best to secure their firearms from misuse by children who are unaware of that potential danger, as much as responsible parents try to protect their children from the hazards of electricity, household chemicals, poisons, and physical injury from falls, sharp objects, fire, choking, or drowning. Part of that protection, when they are old enough to understand, is education. Safes are available which allow quick access to defensive firearms when needed, while preventing unauthorized access; and modern firearms (particularly semi-automatics) are designed with safety features to prevent accidental discharges.

In an attempt to further reduce gun accidents in the home, fifteen major firearms manufacturers representing the American Sports Shooting Council (ASSC) voluntarily agreed October 9, 1997 to package locking devices (such as trigger locks) with each new handgun they produce. Six other companies are now considering joining the agreement. But "childproofing" a home is no substitute for "accident-proofing" or "gun-proofing" a child so that they can understand the dangers and actively avoid them, whether at home, at school, or at a friend's house.

Irrationally, the same people who use accidental shootings of children to advance the cause of "gun control" are often opposed to educational efforts to teach children how to avoid gun accidents and injuries, though they may favor education as a means to make children aware of the risks of venereal disease and pregnancy. The U.S. National Rifle Association, for its part, has championed the cause of gun safety and training for over a century, and since 1988 has promoted a safety program for children in grades K-6 which tells those youngsters to "Stop! Don't Touch! Leave The Area! Tell An Adult!" if they find a gun. The NRA's "Eddie Eagle" program (originated by Florida grandmother and current NRA president, Marion Hammer) has been used in schools across the nation, and was awarded the National Safety Council's Outstanding Community Service Award in October 1993.

The rate of firearms accidents generally has been declining since the 1970s, largely due to public education about the basic rules of firearm safety, even as the number of firearms in the U.S. population has increased. Firearm-related accidental deaths involving children 14 and under in the U.S. totaled 227 in 1991, trailing many more commonplace causes of accidental death among children, including car accidents (3,087 deaths), fire (1,104 deaths), and drowning (1,104 deaths).

Recommended Reading:

Guns, Crime, and Freedom, Wayne LaPierre
Regnery BooksISBN 0-89526-477-3, (1994)
LaPierre devotes an entire chapter (Chapter 9) to this. Guns, Crime and Freedom is also out in "trade paperback" (an oversize paperback) from HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-097674-8 (1995).
[Wayne LaPierre is the chief executive officer of the National Rifle Association, and one of its spokesmen.

Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, Gary Kleck, pp.276-280
Aldine de Gruyter, ISBN 0-202-30419-1 (1991)
[Dr. Kleck's book is a valuable resource for all participants in the "gun control" debate. Point Blank received the American Society for Criminology's highest honor, the Hindelang Award, at the ASC's 1993 annual meeting, for the most important contribution to the criminology literature in the preceding three years.]

Accident Facts,1994, National Safety Council Staff
ISBN 0-87912-183-1, (1994)

American Sports Shooting Council website

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