Guns Don't Kill People, Toddlers Do

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 
Image via The Brady Campaign

A toddler has shot themselves or another person every week in the U.S. for the past two years

Guns don’t kill people, toddlers do. It’s the only rational explanation if you look at the statistics for the past few years, where toddlers have shot themselves or another person once every week.

What can we possibly do about this? Gun safety laws? No way. We don’t want to do that. Responsible gun owners don’t need to be told how to store their guns, at least according to the NRA. In a press release responding to one town’s efforts to get safe gun storage laws in place, the organization wrote, “Everyone knows that firearms must be stored safety, particularly when housed with children, but it is NOT the Board’s business or role to dictate how people store things in their homes.”

Exactly. EVERYONE knows guns need to be stored safely! Just like everyone knows that seat belts keep you safe. Why bother with laws legislating that? Also, EVERYONE knows murdering is wrong! Why have laws? Murderers are still going to murder. There’s no point prosecuting fine, upstanding citizens who leave their guns unlocked and loaded in reach of their toddlers, making them murderers before they can even recite the alphabet. Ooopsy! Why punish a “responsible” gun owner for making a tragic “mistake?” There’s no way we can stop these things. Accidents happen.

Only, yes — there is totally a way we can stop these things from happening. By making safe storage laws mandatory in every state, and prosecuting those who are responsible for the deaths of others when these “accidents” happen. And I’m not talking about toddlers.

Yes, that was satire. But it highlights an epidemic that is not funny at all. “This PSA is satire,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign told The Washington Post. “But the public health crisis it calls attention to is anything but. Whether the trigger is pulled by a toddler, a convicted felon, domestic abuser, or terrorist, we have a problem in America with guns too easily falling into the wrong hands. And that translates to hundreds of lives lost or changed forever every single day.”

Fewer than 20 states have enacted laws to hold adults criminally liable if they fail to store guns safely and children access them and cause harm to themselves or others. Why?

Our kids are dying because our Congress refuses to make any significant moves to regulate the sale of guns and promote gun safety. We aren’t even allowed to study statistics about deaths. “Between 1973 and 2012, the National Institutes of Health awarded 89 grants for the study of rabies and 212 for cholera — and only three for firearms injuries,” wrote Nicoloas Kristoff in an Op-Ed for The New York Times.

According to the Children’s Defense Fund, One-third of all households with children younger than 18 have a gun and more than 40 percent of gun-owning

households with children store their guns unlocked. Twenty-two percent of children with gun-owning parents handled guns in their homes without their parents’ knowledge. More than half of youth who committed suicide with a gun obtained the gun from their home, usually a parent’s gun.

Yet every time a story of a child getting their hands on a gun and killing themselves or someone else surfaces, gun owners quickly flock to comment sections to say, “This is an irresponsible, idiot parent!” People seem to think you can’t fix stupid with laws. But yes, you can. And we have to.

Can we at least try? Or are we just going to continue to throw our hands in the air every time a toddler gets their hands on a gun and say, “There’s nothing we can do!” Of course there is.

The most frustrating thing about all of this is that we are on the same side. Responsible gun owners and those pushing for more gun safety laws are on the same damn side. It’s time we start acting like it and put the safety of children first — by pushing for safe storage laws and ceasing to act like our hands are tied. They’re not. If we vote, we have power. And our representatives have to know that we are no longer willing to put the safety of children aside to protect 2nd Amendment paranoia.

Repeat after me: No one is trying to take your guns.

The last four gun safety measures that were struck down by our congress last June were measures that no reasonable gun owner should oppose — yet here we are. One would have kept people on the no fly list from buying guns. One would’ve closed background check loopholes that make it easier to buy guns at gun shows and online. And two others would have expanded background checks in the case of mental illness and suspected terrorism. All struck down.

Why? For the same reason that gun safety measures that no reasonable gun owner should object to keep getting struck down: because the NRA has a lot of lobbying power, and congress is in their pocket.

So, yeah. Guns don’t kill people, toddlers do.

And we can’t do anything about that, can we?

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