By Robin Scher, Alternet, June 1, 2016
At the recent national convention for the pro-gun group, all semblance of rationality was gone.
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“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” is the dumbest defense against stricter gun control laws, closely rivaled by “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Just this year 23 people in America have been shot by toddlers. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a research group dedicated to reducing gun violence, the U.S has “one of the highest rates of unintentional child gun deaths in the world.” So if guns are meant to be protecting innocent citizens, what do we make of so many innocent kids shooting themselves and others?
Still, for some reason, various states seem eager to get guns into as many young hands as possible. In March, the Iowa House of Representatives passed a bill that allowed “a person under 14 years of age to possess a pistol or revolver.”
At the NRA’s recent annual meeting in Louisville, Rob Pincus, owner of firearm instruction company I.C.E. Training, talked about the responsibility of being a gun owner. Primarily, as outlined by Pincus’ book Defend Yourself: A Comprehensive Security Plan for the Armed Homeowner, the talk centered around the safest place to store your guns. Namely: a child’s bedroom.
“Why would you consider staging a firearm inside a child’s room?” Pincus asked of the “few hundred NRA members in attendance,” reported Kira Lerner in ThinkProgress. “It’s the first place I’m going to go! As I’ve said…many times, if your kid is going to break into the safe just because it’s in their room, you have a parenting issue, not a home defense issue.”
Parenting issues, home defense issues; notice how guns are never the issue.
One woman at Pincus’ talk brought up the idea that it should be the gun owner’s responsibility to “ensure” there is no unauthorized access. Pincus’ responded, “Ensure is a strong word. So I’m going to say we have an obligation to try to prevent unauthorized access.” He went on to suggest that instead of locking guns away, owners can instead simply hide their guns in secret compartments.
Exploring the convention more, Lerner came across an entire section of vendors specializing in just this business. Among them was a stall selling artworks that adjust to reveal a hidden compartment. Classic. Secret Compartment Furniture was another which needs little explanation. Lerner spoke with this company’s owner, Jill Herro, who noted that “only about 50 percent of buyers request locks” with their purchase.
In fact, actual research further shows that “only 39 percent of gun-owning families keep their firearms locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition”, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
As for the pretext of home security driving the need for guns, a U.S Department of Justice Report from last year showed that the “property crime rate” is decreasing. Here’s a sobering statistic: roughly 100 people died during household burglaries last year, in comparison to the thousands killed through unintentional shootings.
“If the NRA is really are a gun safety organization, they should be lobbying for stronger laws that will protect children,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, to Lerner. “Instead, they are trying to promote and sell guns in a way that actually puts them in danger.”
And that’s no exaggeration, as Lerner went on to discover at the convention. “While the NRA is eager to extend its reach to children, it is not willing to provide resources for effective gun safety programs,” said Lerner, who went on to list a few examples.
The NRA youth event for instance, which alongside “face painting and coloring stations”, offered a “3 gun experience AirSoft” competitive shooting match. In fairness, Lerner did spot the Eddie Eagle” program, an NRA-designed curriculum which advises children how to handle firearms safely. Unsurprisingly, as Lerner notes, research (and growing statistics) shows that this program is for the most part ineffective.
Haley Rinehart nearly lost her then four-year old son Eli in 2002 when he found a loaded gun hidden in between a stack of children’s books, and shot himself through the eye. So what does someone like Rinehart think of Pincus and the NRA’s gun storage recommendation?
“In my opinion, that is almost child negligence,” she told Lerner. “I would never advise to keep a gun, be it loaded or unloaded, in a child’s room, because if it’s in there, the child will eventually find it. That’s just irresponsible.”