Here is a fill in the blank headline which will make it easier for the reporter to insert the single digit age of the shooter and victim. If you need more than one digit for the shooter or victim, you can modify as needed. Two days ago, we had yet another gun tragedy where a child came across a loaded gun. But, these are not headlines anymore as they happen too often – here is only a small sample.
Arizona – two days ago: A surprise visit to a friend’s home with his young son on Friday ended up being a deadly decision for Justin Stanfield Thomas. The 35-year-old Army Special Forces veteran and former Green Beret was shot dead by his 4-year-old, who police say found an unsecured gun in the living room of the friend’s home.
Kentucky – April 2013: A 5-year-old boy accidentally shot his 2-year-old sister to death in rural southern Kentucky with a rifle he had received as a gift last year, authorities said. The children’s mother was home at the time of the shooting Tuesday afternoon but had stepped out to the front porch for a few minutes and “she heard the gun go off,” Cumberland County Coroner Gary White said. He said the rifle was kept in a corner and the family didn’t realize a bullet was left inside it.
New Jersey – April 2013: A 6-year-old New Jersey boy has died after being shot in the head by a 4-year-old playmate as their parents stood in the yard nearby, a local police chief said. Brandon Holt was pronounced dead at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, according to Toms River police Chief Michael Mastronardy.
Minnesota – December 2012: A 4-year-old boy playing with a handgun apparently shot and killed his 2-year-old brother in their Minneapolis home Wednesday, police said. Police were called to the shooting at a town house in Minneapolis’ Riverside neighborhood just before 1 p.m. and found the 2-year-old with a critical gunshot wound. He died in an ambulance at the scene, police said.
Indiana – July 2011: A 4-year-old Cedar lake boy died Thursday after accidentally shooting himself and a 2-year-old Connersville boy died July 14 after being accidentally shot by his 5-year-old brother, police said. A 6-year-old Martinsville boy died June 30 after being shot by his 11-year old brother, officials said. In each case, officials said the children were able to gain access to a loaded deadly weapon inside their homes.
Huffington Post – December 2012: Before 20 first-graders were massacred at school by a gunman in Newtown, Conn., first-grader Luke Schuster, 6, was shot to death in New Town, N.D. Six-year-olds John Devine Jr. and Jayden Thompson were similarly killed in Kentucky and Texas. Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6, died in a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., while 6-year-old Kammia Perry was slain by her father outside her Cleveland home, according to an Associated Press review of 2012 media reports. Yet there was no gunman on the loose when Julio Segura-McIntosh died in Tacoma, Wash. The 3-year-old accidentally shot himself in the head while playing with a gun he found inside a car.
If you want to get further depressed, just Google “Four year old shoots two year old” and see the pages of stories that pop up. I pulled the above stories from that gaggle of Google results. I wanted names with these tragic and avoidable deaths. I have cited a statistic before that according to the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery and Medicine, of every 100 children and teen gun deaths in the Top 23 wealthiest nations, the US has 87 of the gun deaths. That means, the other 22 countries have 13 gun deaths.
In preparing for this article, I saw one from a website geared toward the Conservative Right that said children gun deaths were exaggerated as a problem in America. I am sorry, but these words offend me. My friend Momma E had a great post the other day, http://dje1231.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/a-true-pro-life-stance/ , that said the GOP is not a pro-life party, they are a pro-birth party. There is a huge difference. Among other things, you cannot stand by and witness these children or any gun deaths and say it is not a problem. What good does it do to promote life before birth, but let kids gain access to guns? That is the ultimate contradiction.
Irrespective of what the NRA says, we are well past the tipping point. Responsible gun owners agree. 90% of Americans want background checks. We should not stop there. We need recurring background checks on all transactions, even if no money changes hands. We need mandatory training for use and storage of a weapon. We need highly restrictive usage of assault weapons and magazines. We need to register bullets as the police force wants to do this to solve crimes.
The NRA is right on the first part of the famous phrase, but wrong on the second part – guns don’t kill people; people with access to guns kill people. But, even worse, children with access to guns kill other children and adults. The time has come. We need adults and parents to start making decisions expected of them. The constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness overrides everything else in the document and please note that life is listed first. If our leaders do not value the lives of our children, then they truly do not deserve to remain in office as they are sentencing our young to die for no damn reason. By the way, according to the Children Defense Fund, over 125,000 children and teens have died in gun deaths in the US since 1979. That is not an exaggeration.