Saturday, March 3, 2012

Unlock and load!

While many people would extol the virtues of guns, there can be no doubt that they also bring risks and need to be treated responsibly. Gun accidents kill hundreds of people in the U.S. each year and wound many, many more. As we saw tragically this last week in Ohio, guns also end up in the hands of adolescents with either poor decision-making ability or an outright desire to strike out. Adolescents also use guns to take their own lives.

Two simple precautions that households can take to reduce these tragedies is to lock up their firearms and to store them unloaded. Unfortunately, there is research that suggests that parents are less likely to take these steps as their children grow older.

In 2004, researchers from Harvard conducted phone interviews with a national sample of 2,770 adults about their firearms practices. Of the respondents, 392 reported having firearms in the house and also reported being the parents of children under 18. The results were sobering.

Nearly a third of the parents reported that they had an unlocked firearm; two out of nine reported keeping a loaded gun, and one out of 12 reported having at least one loaded, unlocked gun. The proportions were higher among parents of adolescents--41.7 percent kept an unlocked gun, 25.5 percent kept a loaded gun, and 9.8 percent kept a loaded and unlocked gun. However, the proportions were also appallingly high among parents of younger children--28.8 percent with an unlocked firearm, 20.4 percent with a loaded firearm, and 6.8 percent with a loaded, unlocked firearm.

Another study calculates that somewhere between 1.6 million and 1.8 million children were living in households with loaded and unlocked guns in 2002.

Keeping an unlocked gun around children or adolescents is begging for trouble, and keeping a loaded, unlocked gun borders on insanity.

It's one thing for adults to pose the risks of guns on themselves. It's quite another to pose them on defenseless children and on other people's children.

9 comments:

Ken said...

I chose to teach my children about the proper use of everything about our home. We had firearms but no alcohol. How about requiring parents to lock up their alcoholic beveraqes to keep those under age 21 from getting into them?

Ken said...

The comment posted before I was complete with the content.

http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0210e.asp

Dave Ribar said...

Ken:

Teaching children about dangerous items isn't the same as locking those items up.

Children, including adolescents, don't perceive long-term consequences the same way that (most) adults do. Children are more impulsive and have less self-control.

These are bad qualities to have around a loaded and available gun.

Most parents take sensible precautions. Teaching about the "proper use" of things is one precaution, but locking guns and keeping them unloaded is also sensible.

According to the statistics, the vast majority of parents are responsible. About two-thirds don't own guns, and many who do have guns keep them locked and unloaded. However, the statistics also show that 1.6 to 1.8 million children are in households with loaded, unlocked guns. That's 1.6 to 1.8 million too many.

Ken said...

Most of your posts about firearms point toward total bans on civilian ownership of firearms. Thankfully this one is not that extreme. Your statistics show that of the numbers of households with guns, very small percentages of those result in problems. Sensible precautions at the election of the adults in the household are certainly indicated. Children get burned by falling crock pots. Sensible precautions are in order. Do we need laws about those?
An unloaded and locked firearm is useless -- as you may prefer it to be.
A citizen with an operable firearm is a citizen. Without the firearm, they are a subject.
“There are two kinds of people in the world my friend, those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.” - Clint Eastwood, 1966, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” (Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo). "Those who beat their guns into plowshares will plow for those who do not."
"Finally, with regard to disarming the Jew population, there is no dispute that the
Nazis did disarm Jewish persons aggressively—of all firearms, as well as “truncheons or
stabbing weapons.”114 The Minister of the Interior, Frick, enacted Regulations Against
Jew’s Possession of Weapons on November 11, 1938, which effectively deprived all
Jewish persons of the right to possess firearms or other weapons. It was a regulation
prohibiting Jewish persons from having any dangerous weapon—not just guns. Under
the regulations, Jewish persons “are prohibited from acquiring, possessing, and carrying
firearms and ammunition, as well as truncheons or stabbing weapons. Those now
possessing weapons and ammunition are at once to turn them over to the local police
authority.”115 Moreover, prior to that, the German police and Nazis used the 1938
firearms law as an excuse to disarm Jewish persons."

Dave Ribar said...

Ken:

No, my posts point toward sensible behavior toward firearms. Please point to any place where I have advocated for a total ban on civilian fire arms.

Your any-sensible-restriction-is-too-strong-of-a-restriction bias is showing.

Ken said...

Add a regulation, any regulation, groups like this salivate in anticipation of more.
http://www.vpc.org/studies/unsafe.htm

Ken said...

She tried all the alternatives. Her gun was obviously not locked away.

http://www.news-record.com/content/2012/03/04/article/gastonia_woman_kills_intruder

Dave Ribar said...

Ken:

The tragedy in Gastonia is hardly a victory for gun advocates. The few details that have been released (http://www.gastongazette.com/articles/home-68284-dead-invasion.html) suggest that the woman repeatedly shot at an unarmed, mentally-disabled man, who may have mistakenly thought he was entering his own house.

The woman had valid grounds to fear for her life, and her actions are understandable. However, the shooting may ultimately be proven to be unnecessary.

Ken said...

Of course she had plenty of time to gather all the facts as now known and to consider innumerable alternatives before acting.