Forget the little kids playing with it, what about the chances of them intentionally using your gun? Rash decisions and guns are two things that don’t go well together. It’s a combination that gives adults plenty of trouble. How well do you think this combination fares when dealing with an even more immature, more impulsive and irrational brain? When kids have access to guns (whether intentionally or inadvertently) bad things happen.
Adolescents are wonderful at finding clever ways to bypass whatever safety precautions parents put into place. Even if you have a gun locked up, there are dozens of ways a teen could bypass such security and gain access to that weapon. If you keep a gun anywhere in the house, you must also assume that if your adolescent wants it bad enough, that gun will also be accessible to your teen. Do you trust the teenage brain with a loaded weapon?
Most school shootings involve guns taken from the parents’ home. Surveys show that an estimated 3% of high school seniors sometimes carry a gun to school. Since kids this age can’t legally own a firearm, many times it is their parents’ weapons they are toting around. (USDOE & USDOS, 1999) Several episodes of A&E’s real-life homicide show The First 48 feature stunned parents who learn their 14-year-old or 15-year-old snuck their gun and used it to kill another youth. Having a gun around gives your adolescent potential access to a firearm, something that often turns out to be a dangerous combination. In Des Moines, Iowa, a 12-year-old was arrested in connection with the shooting of another 12-year-old. His mother and her boyfriend were also charged with making a loaded firearm available to a child.
When parents give their kids access to guns
It’s not just older kids who are prone to committing murder. Younger ones do this as well, especially when they are given free access to firearms. In addition to the families that don’t properly secure their guns, there is a subset of people who for reasons I’ll never understand think that it’s a good idea to give kids their own gun. Whenever you give a child free access to a firearm, the odds of a tragedy go up substantially.
In Big Prairie, Ohio, a 10-year-old boy was charged with murder for shooting his mother with the .22 caliber rifle that his father had given him as a gift. Police say the boy’s actions were prompted after an argument with his mother about fetching firewood. Instead of doing his chores, he went to his room, got the gun, loaded it, and shot his 46-year-old mother, Deborah McVay, to death.
Another 10-year-old boy was charged with first-degree murder for shooting his father with a gun his dad had bought him on his birthday. The boy told authorities his father disciplined him too often and too harshly, and that is why he killed him. Two lives were wrecked that day, all on account of a decision to give a child a gun. (USA Today, 8-31-2009, p. 8A) While such cases may seem incredible, let me ask you this: Who hasn’t thought about killing their parents a time or two before, at least for a brief moment? What separates these cases from everyone else may only be that these kids had access to a firearm during a moment when they were blinded by anger.
At least in both of these cases, it was adults who paid the price for their foolish decision. Other times that isn’t the case. Having a gun in the house brought sibling rivalry to an all new level for one family, after police said a 9-year-old boy got his grandmother’s shotgun, loaded it and shot his younger sister at close range. Thankfully, the girl was expected to survive the wounds to her left arm and torso. (USA Today, 7-14-09, p. 5A)
In Pennsylvania, an 11-year-old boy shot his father’s pregnant girlfriend with a gun that had been given to him as a Christmas present. He shot her execution style while she was sleeping, then hopped on a bus and headed to school. Both Kenzie Marie Houk and her unborn baby died. (Fox News, 2-22-2009) In 2014, an 11-year-old boy shot and killed an 8-year-old neighbor girl because she wouldn’t let him play with her new puppy. (Read the full story at http://TrueChildSafety.com/1027/eight-year-old-girls-killed-over-puppies/)
These stories are anything but unique. Whenever you bring a gun into the home, the odds of someone in your family using it to commit a gun crime are far greater than the odds of anyone from the outside world committing a gun crime against you.
When people use a gun to kill their family
The problem with all guns is that they perform their function all too well: they make it far too easy to kill someone. Giving people the power to snuff away someone’s life with the twitch of a finger, no matter who that person is, can be a dangerous prospect. If history has shown us one thing time and time again, it’s that anyone can make a horrible decision in a moment of anger.
Many of the domestic murder-suicides that occur aren’t pre-planned. One partner simply has a gun, uses it, realizes what a horrible decision it was, and decides to take their own life. Sometimes they’ll kill the children too, taking the entire family with them. While this could potentially happen with another weapon, it takes a lot more effort to stab someone to death or beat them to death than it does to twitch your finger from several feet away. Many of the domestic murders that take place simply wouldn’t happen if there was no gun in the house. In this regard, it really is the gun that kills people.