Monday, January 08, 2007

Kids and Firearm Safety

The 3-year-old son of a Henry County police officer died after he accidentally shot himself early Friday, police said.

Clayton County police Capt. Robert Tomlin said the accident happened shortly after midnight when Marcus Kitt found the gun in a closet in his parents' bedroom.

WETUMPKA, Ala. - An 11-year-old girl was accidentally shot and killed while playing with a young relative during a Christmas party.

The boy, also 11, shot the girl with a .22-caliber rifle after they went into a room to play on Friday, said Detective Sgt. Gary Edwards of the Wetumpka Police Department.

Teen Killed in Accidental Shooting

A teen died, Friday afternoon, after he was accidentally shot by a friend at the home of a Detroit police officer.

According to investigators, three 15-year-old boys managed to unlock a gun case at a home on the city’s northwest side. The boy that lived at the house took the gun out to show his cousin and a friend and accidentally fired the weapon, hitting the friend in the head.

The headlines are brutal, the stories behind them sad and all to frequent. The fact that accidental shootings involving children are statistically rare (a young child is much more likely to drown than be involved in an accidental shooting, even though many more homes have firearms than have swimming pools) does not temper the grief and pain suffered by the families. I feel for these families, and often offer up a mental prayer for them when reading articles like those listed above. Accidental shootings involving children are tragedies, but they are tragedies that can be prevented.

So... How do we prevent these tragedies from happening? How do we, as responsible firearm owners maintain a safe, and secure, household?

The first thing that we have to do is acquire the skill to handle and use our firearms safely and effectively. We have the right to own and use firearms, with that right comes the responsibility of being proficient with those same firearms, and we need to follow the four rules of firearm safety. Our safe use and handling of firearms needs to become a part of us, a second nature. Our children will learn more by our example than by our words.

Speaking of children, we are responsible for raising children with an appropriate sense of self discipline and responsibility. This is our obligation to society, not just our children. If we have not raised a 16 year old responsible enough to safely handle a firearm, why the heck would we give him the keys to a car? It is not an easy task, and it seems to get harder with each day, but it can be done with good parenting.

Introduce children to firearms early, when they show an interest. Do this in a quiet, controlled environment. Show them how to check the firearm clear and allow them to handle it, all the time talking about safety. Let them know that they are never to touch a firearm without an adult, and that if they want to see a firearm, you will let them. This is also the perfect time to talk with them about what to do if they find a firearm laying around or in the hands of another child (don't touch, leave the area, tell and adult).

As they get older, take them to the range, or out hunting with you. Comment on how people are handling their firearms safely, and if you notice an unsafe practice, point it out. When they have reached the proper maturity, and have proven that they do understand safety, allow them to start shooting under controlled conditions. I received my first firearm when I was 7, at 13 I was riding bicycles and dirt bikes out to the fields to go shooting with my friends. There are still places in this country where kids can take a .22 and go hunt rabbits without ending up on the 10:00 news, but they are rapidly disappearing.

The #1 means of preventing your children from becoming involved in an accidental shooting is to raise responsible children, and take the mystique out of firearms.

From Fr. Frogs Pad:

I will do my best to educate my child about the many things in life that, if mishandled, can result in harm. This will require open and frank dialogue and, in the case of firearms, careful, supervised instruction in their safe handling and proper use.

I will not allow my child to play in a home headed by irresponsible and inattentive adults.

I will take proper and prudent measures to ensure the safety and security of my home. Firearms, stored in such a manner that they are readily available to my trained and practiced hand, while being secured against unauthorized use, are an important component of this security preparedness.

I will urge and DEMAND that others, including public servants, show respect for the principles of freedom and individual liberty on which our republic was founded. I will demand that my children inherit the full spectrum of liberties guaranteed to free men and not permit these freedoms to be diminished by ill-conceived attempts to trade precious liberty for illusory safety.

Proper storage of firearms and ammo when you are not in the area is just plain common sense. If your only use for firearms is hunting and target practice, then storage is easy. Purchase the best quality safe you can afford to secure your unloaded firearms.

If you have a firearm for home defense, then you have to be a bit more proactive.

Something I found on the California "Tips for Gun Owners" site:

There is no such thing as being too careful with children and guns. Never assume that simply because a toddler may lack finger strength, they can't pull the trigger. A child's thumb has twice the strength of the other fingers. When a toddler's thumb "pushes" against a trigger, invariably the barrel of the gun is pointing directly at the child's face.

I just added that as something to think about.

There are many different locking devices available today that will keep a loaded firearm secure, but ready for quick access.

The Bio Vault is one such device. It is small, discreet, and opens quickly with a fingerprint. There are other small gun locking devices that opened with an electronic touch pad or quick acting combination lock. My sidearm is either in my holster, or in one such device.

Another idea is to keep the unloaded handgun in a drawer or on a shelf, and keep a magazine or speed-loader on your person.

Firearm safety in the home is mostly common sense and educating your children.

For more on this issue, go to Fr. Frogs Pad here.

A.C.E. has been doing a good job of keeping track of accidental shootings in the news. I pulled the three examples at the top of this commentary from his site.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If only these gun owners had a bioVault 2.0...It's a Fingerprint Vault that you can store your handgun, personal items ro any valuables. You can find this product at

You should even write about it.