If you do a Google search of “[insert any toddler age] shoots”, your results will be dozens of stories about the children of “responsible” gun owners shooting, and often, killing their loved ones and friends. If you change the formula with the word “shot”, the results will break your heart.
On April 30, 2013 a five-year-old boy in Kentucky accidentally killed his two-year-old sister with a rifle. While the county coroner labeled this tragedy as “just one of those crazy accidents,” it becomes even more horrific when you realize this little boy was given the rifle as a gift. Yes, boys and girls, there are guns out there just the right size for you!
According to a report issued in 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control, there were 355 gun-related deaths for children aged 0-14 in 2009 (the latest year for which they provide statistics). By comparison, for that same time period, there were 12 toy related deaths for children under the age of 15.
Why, you may be asking, am I comparing gun deaths to toy deaths? Well, we are talking about children…children should be playing with toys, not guns.
Millions of units of toys were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2009.The vast majority of those recalls were done after the report of just one injury. In fact, the CPSC recalls toys if there is even a chance of injury or death to a child. Guns killed – not injured – killed far more children that year. So how many firearms were recalled in 2009? A quick search of the CPSC site shows…zero.
It is quite obvious that we must do something to stop the number of children killed by firearms. We can’t leave it up to these irresponsible parents who leave loaded guns unattended, or buy actual firearms for their five-year-old. The solution is staring us right in the face.
Let’s reclassify firearms as toys and then report them to the Consumer Product Safety Commission as a hazard to children.
After all, the gun industry is already marketing guns to the under 17 crowd.
It’s the best in its class and it comes in a variety of colors! Of course, it’s not really a toy and should be used only under supervision of an adult. Still, be sure to ask Santa for your own rifle so you, too, can accidentally kill your baby sister (I made that last sentence up, by the way).
It’s shocking enough that a rifle that shoots real bullets is being marketed to kids, even though it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy a firearm. It is mind-boggling to know that it is part of a strategy of the firearms industry to reach a brand new crop of “responsible” gun-owners. Gun manufacturers, and their lobby the NRA, have been pouring millions of dollars into programs to promote gun enthusiasm among the 8-17 year old demographics for years.
The marketing campaign takes a grass roots approach, encouraging kids to get involved in non-gun sports like paintball or archery and then move on to shooting actual guns (who knew archery was a gateway drug to guns!). They even have a magazine called Junior Shooters that, according to its website, “strives to be the first of its kind to promote juniors involved in all shooting disciplines.” Of course there are the obligatory promotions of safety and instructions to always be in the presence of an adult. But there are also lots of ads for various firearms (in really cool colors and prints), not to mention tips about getting the right ammunition for your .22 caliber semi-automatic pistols and rifles (Insert teenage girl voiceover here: “OMG, I just hate it when my semi-automatic weapon jams,” she exclaims while holding her lavender semi-auto).
Did I mention that the five-year-old boy from Kentucky’s birthday gift rifle was a .22 caliber? Don’t worry – it was only a single-shot rifle. For the toddler set.
One shot was all it took.
Perhaps reclassifying guns as toys might not be a feasible solution. Can we at least start with not marketing guns to kids? It worked with smoking and it got rid of Joe Camel.
Maybe if we make the shooting of guns uncool we can prevent another child having to live with the burden of being the cause of his sister’s death.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.