This is a HOT topic on CNN’s site today . . .
There are few things as frightening as thinking your child may have been harmed by another child while at school, except worrying if it was your child causing the harm. Today’s American teenager is a complex creature. They all are full of unexplored emotions. Often they respond to minor situations with all the drama of a major disaster thinking their world has come to an end. Where once it was expected that a child would be told their conduct unacceptable, our society has deemed it acceptable to lead children to believe that it acceptable to feel the way they feel. Today’s teenager is more confused than ever before in this Country. Amongst their peers, violence is acceptable and even “cool” in many situations. Most of these children seek their 15 minutes of fame daily, just waiting for the right opportunity to do anything that makes them feel “special” if only to themselves. All seek to be “cool” as if it the most important thing in life. They are teenagers. Their minds do not comprehend the consequence of their actions most of the time, and most the time all they want is a little attention. Thus, nobody can suggest the teenage mind a stable environment.
Take the teenage mind, couple it with the ever changing hormones of puberty, and add a little male testosterone and what do you have? What you have is a “train wreck” looking for a place to happen. That is what today’s teenager is, a “train wreck” in waiting. For a majority of teenagers this is just a stage of their life to work through. For others, it is a drama lived every day. It takes little to set this train wreck in motion, and once it starts rolling it is as difficult to stop as a real train. So, why would you give a teenager access to a firearm unsupervised?
All across America adults own firearms, children own firearms, and they are used for the most part, properly. Responsible gun owners secure their firearms from being accessed by others that may either by accident or with ill intent be used improperly. But, there are gun owners out there that think securing their gun means hiding it under a couch cushion, under a chair, in a closet, or under a pillow. This is not securing your gun . . . this is giving a child a toy that he knows not the seriousness of when he finds it. The end result is usually the death of the child or someone else as the child plays with the newly discovered toy.
Then we have the gun owners, usually a parent or older sibling, that believes that telling the teenager “not to mess with my gun” is securing their firearm from misuse. What happens when you tell a child “no” most of the time? The “no” becomes a magnet that draws the child closer with every opportunity until eventually the child has to touch the forbidden fruit. This usually has disastrous consequences also.
And, there are millions of teenagers that have been provided firearms by family and friends that they have learned to use responsibly and for the most part do so without question. A lot of kids grow up with guns a part of their everyday life without so much as a second thought of the proper use of the gun. I grew up with guns, used guns in the military, wore a gun as a Peace Officer, and can carry a gun today should I wish to. But today’s teenager serves a different master than the teen of my day. Today’s teenager is influenced by a peer group that can easily create “stupidity” where none previously existed. This can make a very intelligent and well meaning teenager the engineer of that train wreck we discussed earlier. A child that would never consider violence the answer to their problems, suddenly finds violence the only answer. And, unrestricted access to their own firearm is now their best friend, even if it leads to their own death.
All of these situations can be avoided. One of the things the subject article fails to discuss is how many of the firearms used for these incidents, were unsecured. Every gun owner knows the potential harm that a firearm presents. So, why don’t they lock their gun away from use by others. Parents do not give their children unsupervised access to an automobile, but they do allow children unsupervised access to guns. Just as you would make your child ask to use the car to go to the store, why not make the child ask before taking their gun out to use it. Simply locking the gun up or using a trigger lock and requiring the child ask for the key before they can use it makes the child explain why they want to use it. This low level of supervision does not demonstrate distrust of the child, but demonstrates responsibility as a gun owner. Certainly were your child ask for access to his or your firearm while on his way to school, you as a parent would have concerns and discuss them with your child.
Every parent that allows their child access to a firearm and that firearm be used to cause harm to the child or others because the firearm was not properly secured from misuse by a locking mechanism of some sort, should be held responsible for the use of that firearm. If someone gets killed, the parents need to be prosecuted for the death of the person killed. Why? Because a simple trigger lock on a firearm to prevent the use of the firearm may be adequate to prevent incidents such as our school shootings simply because it might not make the firearm so readily accessible to be used based upon the teenagers emotions.
A lot of people believe America has a “gun” problem. America does not have a gun problem. America has a “responsibility” problem and I believe if researched properly we would discover that the failure of gun owners to take responsibility for their firearms is the cause of many of the firearms related violence situations plaguing this Country today. It may sound extreme to charge a parent with the murder of a child killed by their child or for that matter even the death of their own child, but is it not the parents responsibility to protect their child from such harm? Give this a moments thought. What if all it would have taken is a $20.00 trigger lock to prevent any of the shooting incidents noted in the subject story from killing the children killed? $20.00 dollars? How can you as a person live with the guilt of knowing you could have prevented these deaths simply by use of a trigger lock?
Seriously folks, the problem in American is not guns. the problem is gun owner responsibility. Until gun owners take responsibility for the proper securing of their firearms, these incidents will continue. And, it is time gun owners are held accountable for the misuse of their firearms by others. I am not talking about guns stolen in a burglary and later used on the street. I am talking about guns in the home left unsecured that are accessible to others simply by the fact they are unsecured. Some people will suggest that they cannot use a trigger lock and have immediate access to their firearm for defense. Their problem is not the firearm, but where they live. If your neighborhood is that bad, you should not be raising your children in such a dangerous environment, move somewhere safer. Staying where you are and exposing your children to further threat by leaving unsecured guns around is just stupid. If the kid isn’t killed on the street maybe we can get him killed at home. It is stupid. If you are a parent that leaves your firearm laying around for your 4 year old nephew or cousin to find and kill himself or someone else, there is little doubt your negligence the cause of the child’s death. How do you live with the knowledge that you could have spent $20.00 and prevented the child’s death?
Gun Owners, are America’s problem. Gun Owners, be they criminals, cops, or regular people have to learn to accept the responsibility of owning a firearm and suffer the consequences for failing to do so. Gun ownership carries the responsibility of securing the firearm from misuse. The use of a trigger lock may not prevent all situations of misuse, but if it prevents a single incident it is worth the $20.00 spent. GUN OWNERS, please use some method of securing your firearm from misuse by others, parents supervise the use of your child’s firearms if only by making them ask you for the key before they use it, and everybody else that does not quite fit the aforementioned category, please secure your firearms properly.