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USAToday is running a story about kinds and guns and accidental deaths, and as expected it’s one of those “oh no, think of the children!” pieces. You know, the kind where the author sensationalizes a couple ostensibly illustrative examples, trots out a few irrelevant statistics, then blames the NRA. It’s a time-tested formula that the mainstream media uses to simultaneously paint guns as evil killing machines and the NRA as emotionless, uncaring monsters. Let’s take a look at how it’s done in practice, shall we? . . .

He didn’t know the gun was loaded.

The 14-year-old Massachusetts boy had recently found his mother’s handgun, which she kept hidden under her mattress for protection.

“Promise me you’ll never touch it,” his mother, a single mom, had asked him.

But the lure of the gun was irresistible. He decided to show it off to his neighbor, 12-year-old Brian Crowell.

Yep, start with one specific story of a family’s loss. There’s no shortage of people whose political views follow their emotions, and that opening gets them on the author’s side right off the bat. Obviously, if guns didn’t exist, children would never die, right?

And while Congress voted down gun legislation last month, children’s advocates such as Crowell are urging parents and communities to take their own steps to protect kids.

Crowell, who attended the State of the Union address in January as President Obama’s guest, has devoted her life to gun safety, urging parents to ask whether there are guns in the home before sending their kids for playdates.

“I had never thought to ask about guns in the home,” says Crowell, of Saugus, Mass.

Saugus says she’s aiming for common sense, not sweeping political change. Nearly 40% of American households have guns, studies show.

Next step: establish that your child may not be safe even if you don’t own guns. With the threat is outside the reader’s control, the only way to keep a child safe from the evil guns is by passing “common sense” laws to eradicate the scourge of firearms in civilian hands. Because obviously, since children die from drowning in pools gunshots, we must eliminate pools guns. Never mind the legal or moral implications, think of the children.

Buried deep in the body of the story, though, the author lets slip a small, inconvenient detail.

Fewer children are dying from gun accidents today than a decade ago, as well. The number of kids under 14 who died in a gun accident fell from 86 in 2000 to 62 in 2010, according to the CDC. […] Arulanandam credits programs like Eddie Eagle for helping to reduce deaths in children.

So the events she’s so worked up about are actually declining all by themselves. Without any new laws in place. Oops, there goes the narrative! Quick, to the Batmobile! We obviously need to “balance” that fact with some unfounded speculation!

Yet Arthur Kellermann, a policy analyst at Rand Corp., said programs such as Eddie Eagle have never been independently assessed to measure whether they really make kids safer. He worries that gun safety programs could give parents a false sense of security.

Perfect. The “Eddie the Eagle” gun safety program actually makes kids less safe. Another shot at the NRA.

Never mind the hundreds of thousands of lives that are saved by guns each year. Never mind the joy they bring to millions of Americans. Never mind that swimming pools are a bigger scourge to the well-being kids. Obviously guns are the problem.

We have to think of the children – and only the children. Forget your rights, forget your personal responsibility where it comes to making sure your children are safe. It’s the guns that caused these deaths — not the negligent parents who allowed the unsupervised access.

“What I don’t understand is why the industry hasn’t done more to make handguns childproof, since we have no evidence to date that it is possible to make children gun-proof,” Kellermann says. “And as recent tragedies have proven, they are not bullet-proof.”

Right. Because it’s the product’s fault. We can’t blame the grieving parent for their own negligence. That would be insensitive. Instead, we need to change the laws in this country to protect the lives of 62 kids per year, ignoring the 200,000+ lives they save over the same time period.

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  1. I don’t have young’uns, nor do people of the miniature persuasion visit me in my home. But sometimes I think it would be safer to give the guns the run of the house and lock up the children. Then they couldn’t shoot themselves, drink the cleaning products under my sink, drown in the swimming pool, fall down the stairs or run with scissors.

  2. The culture of the gun-owning community has changed significantly over the past 40-50 years. Being from NYC, I was first introduced to guns in the Scouts. Back then, there was no safety orientation, nothing about the 4 rules. They took the Troop out to a field with a couple single shot bolt actions and hovered over us as we took turns shooting skeet with .22 buckshot. No eye or ear protection. That would be unheard of today. A culture of safety has permeated the sport to a degree that could not have been possible with government mandates or regulations.

    50 years ago, people stored their guns in closets, drawers and night tables. Sometimes, in nice wood and glass display cases, visible to anyone who entered the home. Now, hardly any gun owner, especially with children in the house, doesn’t own a safe. That’s why accidental discharges by children are dramatically reduced.

    • Ear protection for .22 has always seemed like overkill to me, unless your shooting all day. That’s kind of like wearing ear pro when getting out the circular saw, might be a good idea, but seems mostly unnecessary for 100 or so shots at a target.

      • Shooting .22 without ear pro is the one that sneaks up on you and does damage when you don’t realize it. I once spent an entire afternoon shooting .22s with a friend on his farm. This was in a rather large valley with plenty of space for the sound to travel. It wasn’t loud at the time, but two hours later my ears started ringing. Now I don’t fire a round without ear pro.

      • A few rounds of .22 outdoors isn’t a problem. But I’ll bet today, the Boy Scouts’ safety orientation for shooting is very comprehensive. And probably in the realm of “overkill” (if that’s possible.)

      • Kids ears are very sensitive. Maybe adults can do without ear pro when they shoot .22s (I wouldn’t but YMMV), but it’s not a good idea for kids.

        • As a Eagle Scout of 2008, Every shooting merit badge I got we used Ear-pro and eye-pro.

    • I was the shooting sports director of Boy Scout Camp Castle Rock in ’97 and ’98. We shot 12 gauge, .22 LR, and very rarely did muzzle loading. We always had ear protection.

      • I know it is late, but mostly the same applies for Camp Sunnen. Only difference was they used 20-gauge shotguns. For the rifles, it was some sort of .22lr bolt-action Ruger. We didn’t have muzzleloaders at any of the week long camps, but they would host the “Rendezvous” thing every year where we could actually make the lead balls, then go over to the muzzleloader area and shoot them if we wanted. If not, we could just keep them. I only shot mine one time since the line was so long, but EVERY little activity we ever did that included a firearm of any sort also had ear protection involved. In the rifle shooting merit badge, the first 2 days were nothing but safety instruction. It was pounded into our heads like crazy. I never earned the shotgun shooting merit badge, but the friends that did said it was no different from the rifle one. I’m pretty sure they even made us wear earplugs back in cub scouts to just shoot the bb guns(can’t remember for sure, though. That’s getting to be almost 20 years ago.) Even if it seems like overkill, it isn’t a bad thing. Better to teach people to get in the habit of being safe, right?

  3. And the same parents and school boards will fight like cornered Badgers to keep the Eddie Eagle program out of their schools. Hypocrites.

  4. Yet Arthur Kellermann, a policy analyst at Rand Corp., said programs such as Eddie Eagle have never been independently assessed to measure whether they really make kids safer. He worries that gun safety programs could give parents a false sense of security.

    Do tell, which gun laws have been independently assessed to measure whether they make kids or anyone else safer?

    • Remember, this is the same Kellermann whose dubious studies have been refuted numerous times. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for actual facts from him.

  5. “The lure of the gun was irresistible.”

    Was the gun also an engaging conversationalist, a brilliant rhetorician?

    • Dialectician, actually. Knives are rhetoricians, and flamethrowers semanticists.

      Don’t get me started on eastern philosophy; that’s a whole other sleeve.

  6. “Promise me you’ll never touch it.”
    How about:
    “Okay honey, it’s the 2nd Friday of the month – time to go shooting!”
    Now the child gets to handle the gun, knows how to make it safe, knows it can kill if handled carelessly, and doesn’t feel the ‘lure’ to play with it. He already gets to.
    Also, buy a damn safe.

    • Her comments to the kid are idiotic. My dad would teach me about the guns we owned from a young age (4-5 IIRC). I knew where the gun cabinet key was from about six on and could get in any time I wanted, but I didn’t. I was also instructed on how to defend the family with the .357 if I ever had to. Even when my dad had his rifle next to the bed when the neighborhood went to hell I never touched the rifle. Why? His constant training on guns with me.

      She should have trained him in gun safety or received training herself. Utterly moronic.

    • Exactly.

      I introduced my daughter to firearms at a fairly early age. Perhaps even more important than safety training and safe storage, I helped her actually shoot a firearm. The incredible recoil in her hands (with my hands helping of course to be safe) and the loud boom (she wore hearing protection and it is still loud), made it absolutely crystal clear that guns are not toys. All the talking in the world cannot replace that hands-on experience.

      I also followed up with her and told her that we could look at them or handle them almost any time as long as we did it together. And she took me up on that offer two different times. Both times, I stopped what I was doing for 15 minutes and reviewed safe and proper handling. We also go shooting once in a while for fun.

      Firearms are no longer a “forbidden fruit” to my daughter. She knows them intimately (no pun intended), she knows their destructive capability, and most importantly she knows to handle them safely when we are handling them together and to leave them alone when responsible adults are not around.

      Trying to ignore firearms or make them somehow go away is like trying to ignore or make curiosity and hormones go away when it comes to reproductive matters. The most effective solution is to educate children and instill proper values! In other words it is up to us grown-ups to take responsibility for our children and actually parent them.

    • “Now the child gets to handle the gun, knows how to make it safe, knows it can kill if handled carelessly, and doesn’t feel the ‘lure’ to play with it. He already gets to.”


      My 16 year old started shooting at 4 and my 11 year old at 5. Both still compete in 4-H (but the oldest would rather go out and blast prairie dogs). They learned the 4 safety rules and how to handle a gun at a young age. There is no curiosity because they shoot ALL THE TIME.

      I will bet none of these people lock up their knives but rather teach their kids how to use them….

  7. Notice, too, how they constantly talk of the “debate on firearms,” yet don’t allow comments. Their idea of “debate” is for them to talk AT you and for you to shut the fuck up and listen. Niiiice.

  8. It’s amazing that those same educators who are aghast at the idea of parents or schools educating children about guns are the same adults who push the hardest for demonstrating the most graphic aspects of sexual education regardless of parental permission. Imagine if the same arguments floated for teaching sex-ed to children could be used to teach gun safety to school children.

    • Right on scottlac.

      Lets see now, it’s no good just teaching abstinence, so we need to teach them about condoms etc. from an early age and now make the morning after pill available to children of all ages. It does not seem to have worked to reduce unwanted pregnancy or unwed mothers, but never mind that. It also has taught our kids that anything goes and it can all be fixed with a pill or an abortion. No personal responsibility.

      But teach gun safety? No way! Kids might find out that firearms can be safely handled and if one kid learned that he might know what to do if he or his buddies found a gun! Better to keep them in the dark and hope they won’t touch it!

      I think the lack of common sense personal responsibility is why gun grabbers want to make it harder for us to legally own firearms than address the real issues – bad guys/nut jobs getting guns illegally.

    • Hah! I just read your comment scottlac right after I posted my comment just above. Clearly we are on the same wavelength.

  9. I have a two year old daughter at home. The day I found out we were having a girl, I went right out and bought her a cricket. Yes, its pink ( I know ). As of now, the only time it comes out of my safe is when I do the twice yearly once over. The 22 ammo is stored in an ammo lock box that only my wife and I have the keys for…….I can’t wait till she’s old enough to go to the range.

    • Same here. My daughter is turning 3 this year and I can’t wait until she’s old enough for me to take her out with the .22. She’s very curious and I never hesitate to show her one of my guns if she asks and we look at them together. Hiding them and hoping she never gets curious is NOT the answer.

  10. ‘Perfect. The “Eddie the Eagle” gun safety program actually makes kids less safe. Another shot at the NRA.’

    Methinks shooting at the NRA be unwise, I does. Backstbbin’d be safer, aye. Aarrggghhhh!

  11. I grew up in the 50’s. My parents never inquired as to whether our friends parents had a gun in the house. They just assumed there was at least one weapon there. Lots of GI returned from WWII with service weapon, theirs or a German’s.
    As kids we knew what would earn us my dad’s leather belt across our rear ends.
    None of us ever even thought of messing with someone’s guns. There were some kids who did stupid things but we had better sense than to hang out with them.

    Later on my dad had an extensive gun collection in his gun safe. He left me his Colt Mustang, government model .380 pistol. I don’t shoot it much since have my own collection now. But service it once/twice a year and always think of him when I do.

  12. What have we been saying all along? The MSM and ANTI-GUN POLITICIANS WANT MORE DEAD PEOPLE. A reduction in “gun deaths” is not acceptable to them.

  13. “Guns also should be redesigned so that they don’t go off accidentally when dropped, Hemenway says.”

    Done and done. Now we can move on.


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