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The Slow Massacre

December 24th, 2012

People across the nation reacted in horror when 20 young children died after being shot by a gunman at their elementary school.

People across the nation react not at all when four times as many children under 5, some of them toddlers, are shot by gunfire in the home.

Brennan Nowell, all of two years old, somehow was able to get and play with a handgun in his house. It seems clear that the gun was loaded and in a place where a 2-year-old could access it. Brennan died in the hospital Thursday night.

Sadly, he was not alone in that town:

This year alone, four Chattanooga-area children under the age of 14 have died because of accidental gunfire.

One boy was accidentally shot in a bathroom when a shotgun slipped, his family reported. An 11-year-old was shot in the face by her brother. A 3-year-old shot herself in the face with her grandfather’s handgun.

According to the CDC, 304 children under the age of 14 were killed by accidental gunfire in the U.S. between 2005 and 2009. That’s only accidental gunfire. Between 80 and 90 children a year under the age of 5 die from gunshot wounds, according to a different report. I could not find numbers on how many of those were accidental. Certainly a good number of them are bound to be.

Nor is Chattanooga the only place this happens:

On Saturday afternoon, a 3-year-old in Guthrie, Okla., died after accidentally shooting himself in the head with a gun he found inside his aunt and uncle’s house. His uncle is an Oklahoma state trooper.

Many states have “CAP” (Child Access Prevention) laws, but most states only treat them as misdemeanors. The Tennessee article reports that 6.6% of all gun owners in the state keep their weapons loaded and unlocked—a bad idea even without children, especially since guns stolen from homes (more than 300,000 per year) are a common source of firearms for criminals. People foolishly think that guns will make their homes safe, but criminals by nature rob homes that are empty, and will take guns when they find them.

As I have stated before, training, testing, and licensing should be mandatory for all gun possession, just as it is with automobile possession. I additionally believe that keeping guns locked away should also be mandatory, and emphasized as part of the training. Not keeping them locked should be a federal felony, whether or not they result in injury or death—though sadly, those will be the most common means by which violations will be discovered. Many people will stupidly believe that they are immune from having their unlocked guns taken by family or outsiders and will ignore the laws, but saving the life of even a few toddlers a year (more likely a few dozen, as well as probably hundreds of teens) is worth the effort, and then some.

Massacres such as the one in Newtown grab the headlines as well as national attention; however, the slow massacre of children is even more horrific, but is largely ignored.

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  1. Troy
    December 24th, 2012 at 05:13 | #1

    “Summing matters up, Hemenway notes that a number of surveys have found that a gun kept at home is far more likely to be used in violence, an accident, or a suicide attempt than self defense. (He also goes off on a long diversion about how a poorly trained gun owner is unlikely to use one well even when self defense is involved.) As a result, from a public health perspective, there’s little doubt that a gun at home is generally a negative risk factor.”


    What a crappy year this was for the US as a society.

    Japan has the right idea, ban guns, but let air-powered replica guns be unregulated so the gun nuts have something to play with:

    firearms seen in public are (by default) believed to be toys by the public at large.[citation needed]


    Back in the 1990s a friend asked me to bring back some airsoft for him. I didn’t know that I had to paint the muzzles orange, so customs at the airport seized all $600 worth of them.

    My general position on guns is that the more dangerous they are, the more they attract the unstable and mentally challenged, like Peairs and his 44 magnum, and the Glock + high capacity mags of Giffords’ shooter.

    There’s a real Waco mentality here, and it’s only gotten worse these 20 years.

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