Let’s go back in time, prior to 1976. The National Rifle Association was a gun safety organization that supported not only gun rights but also the proper use and safe storage of these dangerous weapons. There were fewer handguns than today and no sale to civilians of military weapons of mass destruction.
The NRA handed out pamphlets in those days advising gun owners on how to safely store weapons in their homes, preventing accidental death or serious injury from the discharge of a rifle or handgun.
The instructions were simple. First, always unload all guns when they are inside your home. Second, store the ammunition and the gun or guns in separate, locked cabinets. Too bad this advice is not given today. Today, the NRA suggests that these same weapons remain fully loaded for protection.
In Florida today, a 26-year-old woman was charged with manslaughter in the first degree, and one count of culpable negligence after her two-year-old gained access to a loaded Glock pistol and shot his father in the back, killing him. The boy’s five-year-old brother said it was an accident. His brother was just playing with the weapon.
“The gun was not properly stored, and in fact, it was easily accessible even to a two-year-old, and the result is a tragedy in this community that no one can comprehend,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina told reporters, according to NBC affiliate WESH.
The last year data was available related to gun violence by age was 2016. During that single year, 3150 people ages 1-19, lost their lives from the use of a gun. There are no statistics reporting the number of children who were killed by a gun found in their home or the home of a friend or relative, or the death of another at the hands of a child who gained access to loaded weapons. These sad stories are only reported by local news, with few exceptions. However, the estimate is between 200 and 500 per year. One is too many. There is not a single feasible excuse. The guidelines for safe gun storage are simple and reasonable. If followed, there would never be a story about small children and guns from any news agency.
Science.org reports: “Guns are the second-leading cause of death of children and teens in the United States, after motor vehicle crashes. In 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, they killed nearly 3,150 people aged 1 to 19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Cancer killed about 1850. But this year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, spent $486 million researching pediatric cancer and $4.4 million studying children and guns, according to its RePORTER database.”
After the last shooting inside an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, during which 19 children and two adults were murdered, and four additional mass shootings last weekend, some Republicans have joined Democrats in efforts to change our gun laws. However, there remains no plan to require comprehensive background checks for all gun purchases or a ban on deadly military assault rifles.
Op-ed by James Turnage
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MSN: Florida mom charged with manslaughter after 2-year-old son shoots dad in back