It’s time to save the children. Last week, a 3-year-old boy in Hopewell, Virginia accidentally shot his twin brother while playing on a playground, with a gun that had been left unattended in his home. The twin brother was taken to a local hospital for treatment, and is expected to survive, despite being listed in critical but stable condition. The 3-year-old shooter also sustained injuries to his hand, which police suspect are as result of the gun’s action catching the hand.
While the idea of one 3-year-old shooting another 3-year-old seems unbelievable, it’s part of a very disturbing trend in America today. The U.S. accounts for a staggering 75% of all children murdered in the developed world. And studies have shown that U.S. children between the ages of 5 and 14 are 17 times more likely to be murdered by guns than children in any other developed country in the world.
Similarly, U.S. children under the age of 15 are nine times more likely to die from a gun-related accident than those in the rest of the developed world. And in states where it’s easier to get a gun, the rates of accidental gun deaths among children are even higher. From the playground to the classroom, all across America, our children are dying from completely preventable gun violence. But don’t tell that to gun lobby groups like the NRA.
Despite tragedies like Newtown, and the hundreds of other shootings that involve children each year, the NRA continues to insist that children and guns go great together! For years, the NRA has been working with gun manufacturers to promote guns to children. Just recently, the NRA held a convention in Indianapolis, which included a so-called “Youth Day” to promote guns for children. And for years, the NRA has sponsored the “Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program,” a "gun safety" program marketing guns to children.
According to the NRA’s own website, “The Eddie Eagle GunSafe program is an easy to remember message. If you see a gun: Stop! Don't Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.”
First, everyone knows how hard it is to get a child to “look, but don’t touch.” But more importantly, it’s quite clear that that “easy to remember” message isn’t working. More and more children are ending up in hospitals – or morgues – each year because of gun violence.
Despite the mountains of evidence and piles of tragic stories that say otherwise, the NRA continues to market guns to children, and is even actively promoting legislation across the country that would make it illegal for pediatricians to talk to parents and children about guns and gun safety measures. The NRA says they hate big government, but they want government to be standing between your child and her doctor, forbidding the doctor from discussing guns with her.
The bottom-line here is that guns are dangerous weapons that can kill you, whether you’re 3 or 33. It's what they're built to do. So, it’s time we started treating them like the deadly objects they are.
First, we have to ban gun manufacturers and gun lobby groups like the NRA from marketing guns to children, the same way we banned cigarette companies from marketing to kids. If you’re not old enough to buy a gun, then there’s absolutely no reason why guns should be marketed towards you. That’s just plain common sense.
It’s also common sense that we - at the very least - start treating guns like we treat cars. Cars can be deadly weapons too. That’s why we require people to be licensed and insured before they can drive a car, and register the cars from manufacture to destruction so we can keep track of who’s behind the wheel. Guns should be treated the same way. Anyone who wants to own a gun needs to be licensed and insured, so if their gun is accidentally or otherwise used to kill or injure someone, the victim or the victim’s family will be compensated. And the gun, like a car, needs to have its serial number registered with the state so a chain of ownership and responsibility can always be established.
The debate in America right now over guns and gun violence has gone way past simple common sense. Let’s change that, and save the lives of America’s children in the process.