How many more grim reminders do we need to convince us that gun reform and gun safety are paramount issues in the United States?



More Babies Have Shot People Than You'd Expect

Keep your kids away from guns is the sort of advice that’s considered so obvious, it doesn’t even get an entry in Parenting for Dummies (yes, we checked). Surely, parents wouldn’t let their little ones, between the ages of zero and three years old, anywhere near a firearm.

But, tragically, this headline is brought to you not by the dark humorists at The Onion, but by the Washington Post. According to their morbid analysis, at least 23 people have been shot by toddlers in this year alone. In 18 of the 23 confirmed cases, the victims are the toddlers themselves.

The Post broke down the numbers, showing a heat map state-by-state. Unsurprisingly, there’s a clear correlation between states that have lax gun control laws, and states that have the most instances of toddlers shooting off rounds. These statistics are yet another grim reminder (how many do we need?) that gun reform and gun safety are paramount issues in the United States. As a weary Barack Obama tries again to finalize gun control reform during his last months as President, these numbers show that the cost of waiting will be weighed in bodies, not tax dollars.

Gun Violence By Toddlers, State by State
Gun violence by toddlers, state by state.

Keep in mind, the numbers are the lowball, relying on reported instances of violence. Considering that babies never snitch, and that the liable parents have a vested interest in not reporting such a crime, the number is likely higher. Additionally, the bounds for the Post‘s figures are highly specific, defining a toddler as a child between the ages of zero and three years old. If we were to expand the definition to include all minors, the number of shooting incidents would climb closer to one hundred. Take the Floridian pro-gun rancher who was shot through the back by her 4-year-old with a handgun she’d left in the backseat. Or the 11-year-old child from Talladega who emptied a clip on a robber as he fled on foot, shooting the man through the leg. “He started crying like a little baby,” the 11-year-old told a local NBC affiliate.

For some NRA activists, the Talladega shooting has been the “feel good” story of the week, lauded as an example of guns counter-intuitively saving lives. “Never too young for self-defense,” claims one headline. But a child shooting live ammo in an unsupervised environment shouldn’t be a risk-assessment situation. The technical expertise of learning how to shoot a gun correctly can be taught young, but knowing when and when not to use a gun against another person is something many adults have trouble getting right. Toddlers, meanwhile, have enough trouble coming to grips with object permanence. When kids shoot guns at others, it’s largely parents, family members, and the kids themselves that are the victims. So, yes, survivalists, we can revisit this question when the zombie apocalypse becomes a reality, but, until then, keep your safeties on and your handguns the hell away from kids.

Images courtesy of Amazon, Washington Post.

Stay tuned to Milk for more on gun reform.

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