When we talk about gun ownership we often talk about the responsibilities that come along with owning a weapon. Keeping it locked up, keeping it out of the reach of children, each of these things — one would think — is part of what it means to be a responsible gun owners. Sadly, there seem to be a lot of people out there not getting that memo and it has resulted in yet another tragic unintended death.
In Cumberland County, Ky, a mother stepped outside onto her porch for “no more than 3 minutes.” In those 3 minutes her 5-year-old son shot and killed her 2-year-old-daughter. How did this happen? The boy was given a .22-caliber rifle as a gift. The rifle was kept in the corner of a downstairs room in plain sight because the young boy was used to shooting it and had knowledge of guns. The coroner — who was interviewed by the Lexington Herald-Leader — said, "It's a little rifle for a kid. ... The little boy's used to shooting the little gun."
The mother was apparently unaware that the gun still had a shell inside. The coroner said the death would be declared accidental, that it was “Just one of those crazy accidents.”
The thing is, it’s not a “crazy accident.” Accidental gun deaths happen quite frequently.
There were 15,000-19,000 accidental shooting injuries in 2007. David Frum, for The Daily Beast writes, "The total number of Americans killed and wounded by gun accidents exceeds the total number killed or injured in fires."
Before the gun lobby was able to stop the Center for Disease Control from researching the effects of guns, they found that children under the age of 15 were nine times more likely to die of a gun accident than any child in any other advanced country. Frum also wrote a piece for CNN on two common sense solutions to the very problems that result in these senseless and avoidable deaths. He suggests a surgeon generals warning on the health effects of individual gun ownership. The second step would be to convene Senate hearings on the practices of the gun industry. These seem to be two relatively ambiguous steps the likes of which NRA and Congress could agree to.
You can’t change the reality of the dangers guns represent, no matter how many ways you try to fudge or distort the data. It’s not that the U.S. is any more violent or aggressive, it’s that our violence involves firearms, and guns change the outcome.