This is part of a four-part blog series addressing Children and Guns. Part I – want to ensure your kid never commits a crime? Give him a gun. Part II addresses myths of gun safety – what you must know in order to truly protect your children. Part III addresses when it is safe to educate your child on firearms. Part IV explores what’s really responsible for the death of our nation’s children. If you enjoy what you read, please comment and share on your blog or Twitter. Thank you.
The Myth of Gun Safety
By Kellene Bishop
Wow! Our first installment in this series reaped the most feedback, e-mails, and responses than all of our other posts from Women of Caliber. I hope that you will find this installment at least as equally beneficial.
In this piece I’m specifically addressing real gun safety. I’m referring to the avoidance of accidents, and putting the safety of guns around children in its proper perspective. I’ve read far too many statistics which inflate the danger of guns around children. My objection to this is not only that it’s false information, but that such information is the foundation for many women who would otherwise elect to possess a firearm and the accompanying self-defense skills. So let’s provide the real facts so that we can make an educated decision, shall we?
Myth #1: “Children are constantly killed by accidental gun usage.”
The fact of the matter is that the reason why the media highlights the deaths of children via gun accidents is because they happen so rarely. Obviously, it’s much more headline worthy when an innocent child is killed via a gun than a headline reading that a child is 6 times more likely to die in a car wreck than by a gun. In fact, the likelihood of children dying via a car wreck is 14.5 times more likely than from a gun.
There are approximately 300,000,000 guns owned legally by 94 million people in the U.S. There are approximately 40 million children in America. In 1999, the last year for which a detailed breakdown was available, 31 children younger than age 10 died from accidental shootings. The Center for Disease Control only noted 4 children under the age of 10 dying from accidental gun deaths. With 300 million guns and 40 million children, you would think that there would be a lot more deaths if the firearms in our homes were as dangerous as the media makes them out to be.
Based on statistics in the same year, roughly 550 children ages 0-14 were run over by cars, 800 drowned, 660 were burned to death in fires, and 1,850 died inside cars. Most of the 800 drowned were as a result of unattended children in a swimming pool, 93 drowned in bathtubs, and 36 died in 5-gallon buckets, yet we have no “mothers against bathtubs, buckets and swimming pools” organizations to speak of.
Eight times as many children die from non-gun violence acts than from gun crimes. (Kids and Guns, 2000, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquincy Prevention)
82% of homicides against children age 13 and under were committed without a gun. (1997, FBI Uniform Crime Statistics)
While less than 0.1% of all deaths for children between the ages 0-14 are from firearms, 0.6% are from motor vehicles, 5.3% are from being struck in beatings or bludgeoning, 6% from poisoning, and 42.6% from suffocation. (1997 National Center for Health Statistics National Vital Statistics Report)
Why aren’t more children dying at the villainous hands of 94 million gun owners throughout all of America? Because, with few exceptions, law-abiding gun owners are conscientious of educating children on gun safety and likewise practice it themselves. And yet so many parents, and particularly women, relinquish their freedoms to defend themselves based on the warped reality spoon-fed to them by the media.
While one would think that enough has been said about the exaggerated accidents involving children and guns, I still feel it’s necessary to address this next myth.
Myth #2: “If I don’t have a gun, my children are safer and better protected.”
This concern is falsely founded for so many reasons. For starters, if you are not familiar with the workings of a firearm, how are you able to appropriately stop an accident from happening? Suppose you walk in on your child who’s holding a firearm in his hands. What do you do? Do you grab it from him? Do you instruct him to put it down? HOW do you grab it? HOW would you instruct him to put it down? Do you know when a firearm’s safety is actually engaged on every possible gun your child could get their hands on? Do you know the proper manner to TAKE a firearm from an unauthorized child? Why should you NOT holler at the child, even to “freeze” and put the gun down? If you don’t know the answers to these questions then you could actually CAUSE a firearm accident by simply trying to prevent one. (I’ll answer these questions specifically in a further post as the instructions for such an instance are an entirely separate piece.) Additionally, is a child’s exposure to a gun solely relegated to your own home? Not teaching your child (and yourself) about firearms doesn’t protect them, it exposes them.
If they don’t know what a gun really is, then how are they supposed to respect its deadly power or to even be an influence among their less educated friends who may possess a firearm in their presence? Parents who choose to ignore the reality of a firearm in the midst of their children only promote a greater percentage of danger to them.
If you are not in favor of possessing a firearm yourself and teaching the accompanying rules with such a responsibility, then at least teach your child these 4 simple rules when they come in contact with a gun.
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.
(Eddie Eagle Education Program sponsored by the NRA)
When the only exposure to guns that children have is on video games—where they “kill” people who get right back up to play some more—you are increasing the chance of them or their friends being injured in a gun accident whether you possess one or not.
Now, let’s address the last myth. I warn you in advance, this is going to get a bit dicey as it will address a topic that most parents do not want to even think about.
Myth # 3: “Waiting until my children are grown so that they can make their own decision on using a firearm is the best policy.”
First of all, let me ask you this question, when has your child EVER waited according to your time-frame to do anything? They grow up too fast, date far too soon, get married when you swear they are still only 8-years-old, and make you a grandparent while you’re still feeling in your prime. So let’s debunk the myth that they will actually wait until YOU are ready before deciding for themselves about firearm usage. The best thing you can do is to give them proper knowledge and education early on so that when they do make that unprecedented decision for themselves, they do it fully informed.
We communicate regularly with a lot of single moms on the topic of gun ownership so I’m going to create this scenario specifically for you, Super Moms.
Suppose a criminal enters your home just as you’re about to put your 3 children down for bed. He’s got a knife and he’s holding it at you and making vile threats against you if you don’t give him money. He’s also made it clear that he intends to fiercely violate your virtue in the presence of your children. Sounds a bit melodramatic, you may think, but unfortunately this is exactly the situation that numerous children have faced throughout the nation (See examples below). Of course as a mother you don’t want to ever have to think about your child needing to defend your life with a gun. That’s a natural instinct. But if this same scenario is thought out rationally, think about the alternative. Would you rather that your children have to witness a heinous attack on their mother, then her death, and perhaps even be subjected to more violence to themselves afterwards? That’s obviously an even more disturbing thought.
So what do you do? You train your child not to be a victim and to handle a firearm properly. Why a firearm? Because out of all of the championship karate matches I’ve ever been to, I have yet to see a “power pint” who is truly capable of kicking the butt of a drug-enraged criminal intent on causing death and mayhem.
If you do not prepare them mentally for such a situation now, they won’t be ready if such a horrific event does occur and you’ll risk more than one life being lost. By preparing them for such an instance you are NOT emotionally scarring them. You are preparing them to win with the best possible situation. You’re not treating them to bully others. You’re treating them to heroically defend the lives of those around them. Such a mental fostering has a much more powerful effect on their lives than fearfully and helplessly reacting to a crisis. If they don’t decide when they are young, they may not be able to make a decision when someone’s life depends on it.
In closing, I want to reiterate that the maximum way to ensure your children are safe is to be an involved parent. We can’t control what they are exposed to, but we can have a great influence in what happens when they are exposed. While I’m fully aware that parts of this article are quite uncomfortable to consider, I believe that even putting yourself mentally “there” goes a long way to assist you in your progress to be fully capable to defend yourself and your loved ones. I simply don’t want you to NOT make that decision out of misguided information fed to you by the media. As I’ve said before, I respect individuals who elect not to possess a firearm, so long as that decision is based on sound knowledge. I hope this piece has assisted you in making wise decisions regarding your own self-defense as well as that of your children.
|Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.
|You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.
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