As I await my flight to Pittsburgh, I was flipping through Zite on my iPad (if you’re one of the lucky ones to own an iPad and you don’t know about Zite, download it. You can thank me later), and I came across a story they’d scraped from Perez Hilton. The headline was Toddler Shoots Mother In The Back With Father’s Gun! Sorry. Must. Write. Post. Can’t. Resist.
Let me back up a bit and explain a few salient points for those of you who might not be aware of the backstory here.
First of all, Zite is an iPad-only app that works like a magazine that prints stories it thinks will interest you. The more you read, the ‘smarter’ it gets. As I’ve only had my iPad for a month or so, it’s still learning what interests me. (I get a lot of stories on computer technology, politics and guns.)
Second, there’s the matter of Perez Hilton. I’m not a big pop culture guy. I’m vaguely aware that Perez Hilton is a pretty high-profile blogger, who specializes in celebrity gossip. He’s also an outspoken homosexual (which is relevant only in that he tends to hammer anything or anyone that is perceived as “manly” or “macho”) and has a rep for being…um…bitchy.
Third, a story’s been circulating the InterWebz about an unfortunate woman who’s illegitimate two-year-old child grabbed the baby daddy’s piece and popped a cap in her back. Most stories I’ve read on the tale have emphasized that the dad held a valid concealed handgun permit, and mention that there’s some controversy regarding if a two-year-old would be capable of pulling a trigger.
RF and I talked about this story this morning, and we generally agreed it was a non-starter for TTAG, in that it’s kind of a “dog bites man” tale. Gun accidents, kids playing with guns, and irresponsible gun owners are not exactly front page news round these parts. Of course, we kinda expect the left-wing, gun-grabbing, generally-liberal bloggers to go all apoplectic over this, as they seem to think that having a CHL should automagically make the recipient omniscient and mistake-free gun owner. But when I read the lead on Hilton’s story, I had to take a swing at this. Here’s his opening salvo:
Ugh! This is so heartbreaking and exactly why guns need to be LOCKED up!
Okay. If he means “locked up” as in “stored in such a way as to make them completely inaccessible to a child,” I’m down with that. Completely. Always. But if he means “locked up” as in “take all the guns away from civilians and lock them up which will automatically stop all gun crime and gun violence and we’ll all get ponies and unicorns for being so good” I got a problem with that. Given the flamboyant Mr. Hilton’s rep, I’m guessing he’s more a “the only good gun is a gun in the hands of a cop” kinda guy.
Now, to be fair, Hilton does acknowledge that there may be more to this story than meets the eye. Given that the ‘perp’ is only two years old, the cops have acknowledged that they don’t expect to get anything of value from him in the way of testimony. And of course, the father’s tale hinges on the kid being able to pull the trigger. Even if the child did it, the father’s still on the hook for negligence. But the more interesting question is “did the dad frame the kid for his significant other/baby mama’s death?”
Is the story tragic? Sure. Any time someone dies from an accident, it’s tragic – doubly-so, when a child is involved, when a parent dies, or when an innocent child causes the death of one of their parents. Very sad.
Is locking up guns the answer? Well if you’re talking confiscation, obviously (to me and anyone with a brain) the answer is NO. But if you’re talking about locking up a gun to keep a kid from getting access to it, my answer is…um…it depends.
You see, the problem with locking up a gun is that when you DO need it, it will be locked up. I personally think there are solutions that might work better than a trigger lock or a gun safe, if you’re trying to balance the need to protect your family against the need to have the gun instantly accessible.
Ever thought about mounting your gun inside and above the closet door? You know, where a young child can’t get to it? Maybe even cover it with a panel so it can’t be seen, and wouldn’t be a temptation, yet you could still get to it? I know, I know…Murphy’s Law might kick in, and there’s still a risk a child might find it. Fair enough. But balance that against the risk that, if you do suffer a burglary, home invasion, or other crime, you won’t be able to get to your gun before it’s too late for it to do you any good.
I don’t believe there’s a “right” solution that fits every situation. (Which is why I think the government needs to butt-out.) And I freely acknowledge that my child’s life is more precious and important than my need to have my gun at hand. Until I need the gun to protect her in my home.
I hate to think that this tragedy will be exploited by the anti-gun crowd. But we all know it’s bound to, sooner or later. (I think they’re showing restraint only because they think if it turns out the dad was the shooter, they’d have to rewrite their narrative.) But when somebody who makes their living reporting on Miley Cyrus underwear sightings and Lindsay Lohan’s latest arrest picks up on this story, you know they think it has legs and will work to their advantage.
And that’s sad, no matter which way you slice it.