Column – Gun safety around children essential issue

April 21, 2011 — Leave a comment

Originally published in The Daily Toreador.

On Tuesday, three elementary school students in Houston were injured when a gun was accidentally discharged during lunch. A 6-year-old boy had the gun in his pocket.

This goes way beyond any typical debate about guns on college campuses, obviously (unless you want to argue for concealed carry for kindergarteners, in which case you’re an idiot). In fact, me trying to either defend or condemn something like concealed carry would be pointless here, as it’s not really relevant to this issue.

But what is relevant is gun safety and education.

I’m not going to talk about whether or not common citizens should be allowed to own guns. That’s not an argument I care enough about to get into. But if you as an adult decide to own a firearm, you have to make sure safety precautions are taken, especially if you have children in your household.

As of press time, investigators do not know exactly how the young boy got a hold of the weapon he brought to school, so this is pure speculation on my part, but I consider it pretty likely he got it from home. That is unless there’s a shady illegal firearm market entrenched in the dark hallways between the math and social studies classrooms.

Children these days can be malicious, but I doubt the boy — who was among those injured when the gun went off — brought the gun with the intention of going on a rampage. Maybe he brought it to intimidate a bully he had issues with, not intending to use it. Maybe he brought it to bully other kids himself.

Or maybe he brought it just to look cool.

You can say what you want about today’s media and violence. I personally have played video games (violent and not) since I was young, yet still cringe at taking the life of a mere spider, so I personally don’t put much stock into the idea that media always makes children violent (the scientific jury also is still out, at best).

However, it does seem to make firearms “cool” to some extent. To some children, boys in particular, the mere thought of owning something like a BB gun or paintball gun can be enticing. I was more of a bow-and-arrow kid myself, but that’s just because I’m a giant nerd.

Some children, especially those who are very young, may only see the “cool” but not the danger. They may not have any malice in their hearts at all, no intention of ever hurting another human, but they may not understand the high stakes of potential accidents.

I had some limited experience with guns as a child. I quickly saw the appeal of skeet shooting at a young age but was still taught to be afraid of the power a gun can have. The knowledge that one little accident could hurt or kill my parents or younger sister was terrifying.

I would talk more about keeping guns locked away where children can’t get them, but most gun owners in America probably don’t just leave their guns sitting out on the kitchen table, otherwise we’d hear more stories like this one. At least, I hope most gun owners are more responsible than that.

But for those who are less than careful, we at least need to do a better job of training the children in our community on how to use guns properly — which for a child should mean, “Don’t use this at all.”

Take a child to play laser tag, encourage them to look into paintball or train them for future Humans vs. Zombies domination, but keep them away from the real weapons.

Britton Peele

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Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

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