Child shootings

Too many kids get “accidentally” killed by guns all the time.  And somehow we just accept it.  It is the seeming “cost” of the “benefit” of the freedom of virtually unfettered access to guns.  I know people love  their gun freedoms.  Personally, I love it even more when kids don’t needlessly die. To each his own, I suppose.  But let’s not pretend there’s not a very real trade-off here.  Slate’s Justin Peters’ (who to his credit, just won’t let this issue go):

In a piece that went up today on Mother Jones’ website, Mark Follman writes that at least 194 children aged 12 and under have been shot and killed this year in America. Follman’s piece is just one part of a larger package that also includes a downloadable spreadsheet of the death data, and an affecting interactive photo gallery that goes deeper into each individual child shooting death this year. Some of these were unintentional shootings. Others were suicides, or murder-suicides. None of them had to happen.

Child shooting deaths are a huge problem, and a specifically American problem at that. Follman cites a Children’s Defense Fund study that found that America’s rate of child shooting deaths is four times higher than Canada’s and 65 times higher than the United Kingdom’s. And he notes that, in cases of unintentional child shooting deaths, the relevant gun-owning adults are almost never held responsible…

All around the country, when a child unintentionally shoots and kills himself or another child with a parent’s gun, prosecutors are reluctant to press charges against the parent and thus add to the family’s misery.

This is misplaced compassion, and it renders these laws meaningless. By refusing to apply existing child access prevention laws, authorities waste the opportunity to promote responsible gun ownership, and thus theoretically reduce the number of deaths fostered by irresponsible firearms owners. Many of the 194 deaths catalogued by Mother Jones are products of this reluctance. How many more children will die before we see a change?

Sadly, I’m pretty sure the answer to that is lots and lots.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Child shootings

  1. Alex says:

    I agree that as a country we are far too willing to choose the side of gun owners over gun victims of all sorts. And I recognize the importance of laws about negligent gun ownership that leads to injury or death.

    But part of me thinks that mercy is underrated. I mean, what really is served by hurting the family even more? Do we really think that will be a deterrent? (I don’t know where I sit on this spectrum.)

    I also know that mercy is one of those qualities that people apply more when they know or like or have something in common with (race, economics?) the object of the mercy. And that’s dangerous because it puts mercy and fairness in opposition.

    As an example, witness Justin Peters’ willingness to let Adlai Stevenson and his family off the hook, contrary to every other article he’s written on the issue. I’d posit that he does so in part because “[t]there are few modern historical figures [he] admires more.” (His excuse about modern vs early-20th century standards seems a little weak.)

    Thinking out loud. Don’t know where I ended up.

  2. Mike from Canada says:

    I have to say, Americans don’t seem to care about children. Fetus’s yes, children, no. Many American states are going out of it’s way to ensure no fetus dies before it’s time with politicians and protestors taking extra-ordinary measures to save fetuses. Heck, many are going out of their way to ensure fertilized eggs don’t go un-implanted, and some groups and politicians are having conniptions because some sperm and eggs get wasted via ‘recreational sex’ because of contraception.

    But in many of those same states children are disposable on the alter of religion and firearms.

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