Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Guns and children

I'm sure so much has been written about this topic - but not by me so here goes.

I just read this article and it made my blood boil: http://www.wusa9.com/rss/local_article.aspx?storyid=98215

This poor family.  A 3 year old picks up a LOADED GUN that the stepfather LEFT ON THE END TABLE IN THE LIVING ROOM AND "FORGOT ABOUT IT" - and she accidentally shoots herself in the abdomen, and she dies.  Are you kidding me???  What kind of person leaves a loaded gun in the living room with a toddler in the house?  A stupid, irresponsible one.  I'm sorry - there is NO EXCUSE for this behavior.  I know these parents must feel incredibly guilty in addition to overwhelming grief.  But at the same time, the stepfather should be held accountable for his actions.  That is reckless - and I'm sure there are some laws about child endangerment that this behavior clearly violated.  Yes, he will pay for this careless reckless behavior in his own mind forever (if he is human anyway).  But he also (very likely) violated the law.  If making him legally responsible for his actions saves the life of even ONE toddler from the older brother/father/stepfather/sister/uncle who thinks twice about leaving (and "forgetting") their gun out on the living room end table, then it will have purpose.

The other thing that makes me crazy is that the 3 year old supposedly mistook the gun for - get this - a Wii remote.  Again - are you kidding me???  First of all, how does the sheriff know that is what happened?  The poor girl is DEAD - how could you know what she was thinking???  Or is this for the parent's benefit - to assuage the guilt that they surely must be feeling for forgetting about leaving the loaded pistol on the end table in the living room???  I'm sorry - there is NO WAY a 3 year old "mistakes" a .380 revolver is a Wii remote.   This is just wrong, wrong, wrong.  Period.

I have nothing against guns.  I am not pro-gun, I am not anti-gun.  This is something that I think each person should decide on their own.  I however, am PRO-teaching-your-children-about-the-difference-between-real-and-fake-guns.  And about teaching your children about the difference between play and real life.  My 9 year old son has been playing with toy guns (water guns, nerf guns, etc.) for a long time. And he also has been playing video games for some time - some like ACME Arsenal that include minor violence - with Wile E. Coyote and Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd; yes, it's about as violent as the Saturday morning cartoons we all watched; and yet didn't grow up to be gun-toting murders.  Hmm...somehting to think about for another blog.  But...I digress.

My point is that while my children play these games, we have REGULAR discussions - at least weekly - that what happens on video games/cartoons/some tv shows is NOT real life.  In real life, when you shoot Super Mario with a real gun, and real bullets, he would really die.  In real life, when you crash a car from driving 150 mph, you don't walk away from it.  There is nothing wrong with children playing age appropriate games, and they are going to play these games whether or not we want them to.  What we CAN do, as responsible parents is teach them, at as early an age as possible, that play guns are okay, and real guns are not.  Early and often.  And more often.  And again.  Especially if we have guns in our house.

I'm so sorry for the family of this girl who shot and killed herself.  I am sure their pain and grief will be deep, and neverending.  Let us all learn a lesson from it.