Depressing story in the news this week, which you can read here. Seems a dad kept his firearm in a holster under the bed in his bedroom, usually with the bedroom door locked. You know where this is going, don’t you? Yeah. The kid, 3 years old, is in the hospital after taking a bullet to his face. The dad is possibly facing charges.
Why’d the kid shoot himself in the face? It’s the most common pattern for little kid “accidental” shootings. Basically, the kid starts exploring the gun and looks down the barrel — sometimes trying to get more leverage to get the trigger to move at the same time. Tragic, horrible results.
So what’s the lesson? Two things.
1) If you have a firearm at home and it is not under the conscious control of a responsible adult, it needs to be locked up. Not “hidden out of sight,” not “up high where the kids can’t get it,” but locked up. Ideally, the lock should be secure enough to defeat an adult thief. You should use this lock every single stinking time you take the gun off your body, with no exceptions whatsoever. And yes, this includes the gun inside your purse. If there’s a gun inside your purse, you can never just set the purse down even at home. It needs to be behind a locked door or inside a locked safe! Every time.
2) Because adults can make mistakes, you need to gunproof your children as soon as possible. Disarming your child’s curiousity about firearms doesn’t have to look scary. It can fit very neatly into all the other things you teach and do with your children. When do you start? As soon as the child is old enough to talk, they’re old enough to start learning the Eddie Eagle rules (“If you see a gun, STOP! Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.”). When the kids are old enough to ask questions about what you’re doing, it’s time to show them how the gun works and de-fang their dangerous curiousity about guns.
It’s tempting to think that simply keeping the guns locked up will always be enough. But even responsible adults make mistakes sometimes. When there’s an unplanned failure in your lock-it-up system, the lessons you’ve taught your children can help avoid a tragedy.