BY KEN GERMANSON
In recent weeks, there have been three incidents in Milwaukee in which a young child has gotten hold of a gun resulting in an accidental shooting.
In one case, children playing in a house found a gun under the bed of a child’s grandmother; they gave it to the woman’s four-year-old grandson who fired it, critically injuring himself.
A similar situation found a two-year-old finding a gun, shooting it and injuring another child.
Most recently, a three-year-old found a gun in the glove compartment of his mother’s car; he removed it, shot himself and was critically injured.
There is nothing sinister about these situations; the guns weren’t purchased for perpetrating a crime, but likely because the families believed the gun would afford protection. Nonetheless those three weapons did grave harm!
The news stories do not tell us whether the guns were properly licensed, but the facts are clear: they were not kept safely.
How tragic! It’s proof again that the belief that a gun would bring protection is nothing more than a sham. Statistics consistently show that it is three times more likely that a gun being held for such reasons will be used to harm the owner of the gun or his/her loved ones.
If families insist on buying guns for such reasons – as specious as they are – they must understand the harm that the gun could bring to them. Safety experts continually urge that the gun should never be stored in a ready-to-fire mode. Many, however, argue that: How will I protect myself if an intruder enters and I won’t have time to load the gun? The fact is that such a gun is more often than not used AGAINST the family.
There are other practices recommended for safely storing and using firearms, such as placing the bullets in a location apart from the gun, or storing the gun in a place out of reach for children.
Perhaps what is needed is a relentless education campaign that informs residents that owning a gun may only provide a false sense of security for families. The education program must stress that for those families who feel the weapons are necessary for protection they must follow safe gun-handling practices.
The reality is that guns are an invitation to mayhem, particularly when youngsters will find them and the results could be fatal.