Toddler Violence

A smart gun is displayed at a conference in 2010
(Photo: Joerg Koch, AFP/Getty Images)

A smart gun is displayed at a conference in 2010 (Photo: Joerg Koch, AFP/Getty Images)

Nora May, Staff Writer

Nora May

 

A Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A six year old boy and his three year old sister are playing with a gun outside a home when it goes off, shooting the girl in the face. No one knows who gave the children the gun or why. A two year old from Milwaukee accidentally shoots his mother when he finds a gun in the backseat of their car, instantly killing her. A father pleads with his three year old to “stay alive” during a 9-1-1 call after the boy shot himself in the chest with his father’s gun. These are just some of the horrific scenarios that occur when a young child has access to a deadly weapon.

 

In 2016 alone, toddlers have shot themselves or others 23 times according to Everytown for Gun Safety, and last year toddlers were involved in more shootings than terrorists. There’s an average of one toddler shooting a week, not taking into account the fact that most gun violence involving children is never reported: “Child deaths involving firearms and accidental shootings occur twice as often as records show due to accidental shooting deaths often being referred to as homicides by coroners,” a NYT review reads.

 

While reading the statistics of accidental child shootings, I couldn’t help thinking about the young kids in my own family. In my opinion, owning a gun on the off chance an intruder would enter our home simply isn’t worth their lives being in danger. According to SafeWise, an “overwhelming amount” of convicted burglars report fleeing homes that have security systems or motion activated lights. If that’s truly the case, I don’t think we need handguns in every home.

 

So how do we fix the epidemic of toddler violence in America? I say we should start by bringing more attention to the issue. Replace newspaper articles about the Kardashians with columns that teach people how to safely disassemble and reassemble their guns, how to properly store them in a safe, and how to teach their children the dangers of playing with these weapons.
Congress has put out several proposals to combat the violence, including funding better research on how and why toddler violence happens and reducing how lethal guns are. “Smart guns, ” weapons that only fire when the owner’s fingerprint is recognized, have been suggested.  However, the NRA is fighting proposals as simple as education on guns because they feel that it violates their rights. But in the end, who are we hurting but our children?

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