Thursday, September 29, 2016

Guns in the hands of kids

It’s alarming to read about the number of children killed by gun violence and by gun-related accidents.  Even more alarming is that some of the time it’s children themselves, having access to firearms in the home, inadvertently committing homicides or suicide.  This disturbing trend includes very young kids....not just teenagers being harmed or doing harm to others, but small, innocent children. 

According to The Trace 75 percent of children killed with guns in 2015 were under the age of 12.  In that same year, a toddler in America shot someone about once a week.  A good number of them inadvertently shot themselves.  Why would a parent, a grandparent or any responsible adult leave a loaded gun in a mom's purse, the nightstand, dad's pocket, a closet that is the perfect place for hide and seek.  This is not a hallmark of responsible gun ownership.

This is not just a horrifying, traumatizing epidemic, but a disgraceful rebuff of UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which says that we need to put in place “special provisions” to assure children’s rights to life, health, and well-being. 

Some of the best teachers I’ve met and spoken with use the concept of “making good decisions” to enforce positive discipline in their classrooms.  Great teachers know kids aren’t “bad,” they sometimes make “bad choices,” and the consequences must be addressed.  But how can we expect our kids to make good choices, when the adults around them are making such poor decisions?  A child doesn’t know a toy gun from a real one (nor do some police officers, apparently) and cannot be expected to “make good decisions” when the adults around them are irresponsible.  

This is not to call out gun owners as "bad parents." Rather, what we hope to say is that allowing conditions where kids could pick up and discharge a loaded gun is not the example we want to set for kids to make good choices.   Adults should bear the consequences for their bad choices, not the kids, and certainly not with their lives or their innocence.

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