There have been a handful of gun studies in the past that prove guns and children do not mix, but today, Slate published one of the most comprehensive looks at the dangers of mixing gun ownership and child-rearing. And despite NRA claims to the contrary, Slate cited the American Academy of Pediatrics as saying that the “safest policy is not having a gun in the home,” a quote that sums up all you need to know about mixing guns and children.
Slate begins with the harrowing story of a child who accidentally killed his sister with a loaded gun, and then goes on to condemn NRA-sponsored “safety programs for children, like “Eddie Eagle,” as being ineffective:
The overwhelming empirical evidence indicates that the presence of a gun makes children less safe; that programs such as Eddie Eagle are insufficient; and that measures the NRA and extreme gun advocates vehemently oppose, such as gun safes and smart guns, could dramatically reduce the death toll. Study after study unequivocally demonstrates that the prevalence of firearms directly increases the risk of youth homicide, suicide, and unintentional death. This effect is consistent across the United States and throughout the world. As a country, we should be judged by how well we protect our children. By any measure, we are failing horribly.
Slate reports that “The United States accounts for nearly 75 percent of all children murdered in the developed world. Children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the United States are 17 times more likely to be murdered by firearms than children in other industrialized nations” and that “Children from states where firearms are prevalent suffer from significantly higher rates of homicide, even after accounting for poverty, education, and urbanization.”
A meta-analysis of data also revealed that ease of access to firearms increases the risk of homicide and suicide among all family members, and that these deaths are not offset by defensive usage of the weapon.
[E]asy access to firearms doubled the risk of homicide and tripled the risk for suicide among all household members. Family violence is also much more likely to be lethal in homes where a firearm is present, placing children especially in danger. Murder-suicides are another major risk to children and are most likely to be committed with a gun.
Adolescents who live in states that have a higher prevalence of gun ownership suffer from higher rates of suicide, and proper firearm storage — stored unloaded in a locked cabinet — can’t mitigate the entire risk for adolescent gun suicide. The studies cited also show that “American children younger than 15 are nine times more likely to die by a gun accident than those in the rest of the developed world. Children living in states with higher levels of firearm availability also suffer from significantly higher rates of unintentional gun deaths. Studies indicate the vast majority of these shootings involve either family or friends.”
Furthermore, there are apparently more regulations on toy guns and teddy bears than there are real guns in this country.
The ultimate message from this is that children and guns don’t mix. We’ve seen this time, and time, and time, and time, and time, and time, and time again. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together should know that, but the NRA apparently doesn’t — not because they lack two brain cells, but because one is using the other as target practice.