posted on Aug, 27 2015 @ 08:03 PM
What a senseless tragedy. Haven't posted here in a while, but being a parent of a child of similar age, I have a stake in this.
Personally, I do hold the parents of this child responsible, but in a way that only a few commenters here have done so far. This is not about a
failure to properly secure the weapon. Stashing a gun away in hopes that the child will never find it will not work. No hiding spot, high shelf,
cabinet, etc. will hold their secrets from a determined child. A gun vault or cable/trigger lock can help prevent access to or removal of the weapon,
but curious minds will find a way around that too. (Oh look! There's dad's keys. I wonder if any of them will open that big metal box in the garage?).
Parents have few secrets from curious children. Heck, for years I knew right where to find the presents from Santa in the weeks leading up to
Christmas. (Sorry if I just ruined the Santa myth for any of you.)
Thing is, no matter what you practice at home, you can't control what your child may find at someone else's house or on the streets. You can't control
their friends saying in hushed voices "Come look what I found in my dad's drawer." What you can do is remove the mystery. If your child knows that
guns are powerful tools that can be very dangerous when used improperly then they will, from an early age, respect firearms for what they are. If you
try to keep a secret, well, secrets get out and they'll explore on their own. This is how tragedies occur.
One afternoon when my son was five, I was cleaning my guns in the garage after a day at the range. He son came out and wanted to know what I was
doing. I handed him a 9MM barrel and a rag and told him that I'd show him what I was doing if he wanted to sit down and join me. We had a great time
going over every piece of the stripped guns while I explained what each part did and how these tools should be, and should not be, used. Of course he
didn't understand it all, at the time, but it stuck in that sponge of a brain. He's seven now and knows his dad carries a gun everywhere he goes. He
knows that you treat every gun as if it is loaded. He knows that you don't touch the trigger until you have a clear sight picture of what you mean to
destroy. He knows to make sure there is nothing beyond the target that you don't want to destroy. He knows never to stay on the wrong end of a barrel.
He knows that you can't call a bullet back and that the person that touched the trigger has full responsibly for where that round goes. I have taken
the mystery out of what guns are and have taught him how they should be used. He even has some spent (washed) brass as a memento from a camping trip
during which I showed a soda can who was boss. He picked the spent casing off the ground and said "Dad, I want to keep this. I know I can't ever bring
it to school to show my friends, but it's from the first time you took me shooting and I want to remember that". Awwww.
My son now has Nerf guns that we battle with. I watch his trigger discipline and he's good. (Although he still believes there should be a "time out"
when he needs to reload. Heh. If only the bad guys followed that rule.) I've even heard him scolding his friends for running around with their fingers
on the trigger. This summer I set up a range in the back yard in which he practices using a spring-powered air-soft pistol under my supervision. I'm
his range safety officer and I use the same commands he'll soon hear in real life at a real range. He's safe, and he approaches every session with
just the right mixture of caution and excitement. This winter, on his eighth birthday, I intend on giving him the very rifle that my grandfather gave
me when I was eight. Yup, I still have it.
Parents, if you have guns in the house, be responsible. Don't stick your head in the sand and assume the child doesn't know the guns are there and
everything will be okay. Believe me - they do know that they are there. And they are in your kid's friend's homes too. And evidently in their
classrooms. Don't teach by avoidance. Teach though knowledge. Teach them to respect the tool. Teach them what to do if a friend or classmate wants to
show them one. Take the mystery away. Only then will you have an informed, responsible child and only then will things be okay.