A Case for Firearm Safety Education

That’s what this article by the Red Star Tribune should be making an argument for. As is the usual the Tribune did a scare piece about guns and once again the hysteria doesn’t add up to the truth. The article is trying to make a case that too many kids are injured by accidents involving firearms and the best way to lower this number is through stricter gun control. The actual answer of course is far different and much of what this story states is bogus and misleading.

There are a lot of facets to this particular article. First the Star Tribune provides the statistical data they are using which brings up two facts. First the data does a breakdown of 15 to 19 meaning child is being defined as anybody from a new born to 19 years of age. This is significant because a child is legally defined as being anywhere from a newborn baby to 17 years of age. Once you turn 18 you are an adult and capable of doing things like purchasing long arms. Thus it’s not until your turn 18 that you can legally ensure an exposure to firearms.

The other major item to note are the two counties with the highest rate of accidents involving firearms. They are Hennepin and Ramsey. For those of your outside of Minnesota these are the counties containing Minneapolis and St. Paul our two largest cities. The other top counties are Anoka, Dakota, Washington, and St. Louis. The first three are all part of the Twin Cities area and the last is the country with Duluth our third largest city. So this seems to be an issue with urban areas as opposed to rural areas.

Likewise Hennepin country is home to Northern Minneapolis. The saying here is, “We don’t go there.” It’s a inner city area and contains by far our highest amount of crime in the state. It’s kind of like our Chicago (if you remove Chicago from Illinois’s crime statistics the state is actually pretty safe).

What I derive from this is kids who are more likely to be educated on the proper use of firearms are less likely to have accidents (gee really?). Most kids in rural areas will go hunting at some point in their life or at least be exposed to firearms in some other way (shooting sports). This usually isn’t the case with kids who grow up in the big city (I know a lot of people from the Twin Cities area who never even seen a real gun before). This leads me to believe education is the main problem here.

In a country where firearms are so ubiquitous it doesn’t seem unreasonable to require firearm safety classes in public schools. Especially considering a few of the examples stated in the Star Tribune article. Speaking of examples some of the examples aren’t so much accidents as actual crime:

Bobby Brown uses his own pain to make that point to young people in Minneapolis. In 1997 in south Minneapolis, a few miles from where Montrell Wade was shot, a drive-by shooter’s bullet struck Brown’s spine, paralyzing him. Brown was 15. Now 28, Brown continues his battle to keep kids away from guns — or to at least respect their potential for horrible, unintended consequences.

If you are shot in a drive-by that doesn’t mean you were involved in an accident it means you were a victim in a crime. An accident generally means somebody did something they didn’t intend to. A drive-by shooting is intentional and thus not an accident. Mr. Brown was a victim of a drive-by and hence this example is not a valid one when discussing kids involved in accidents involving firearms.

Also stating the consequences of illegally or otherwise improperly using a firearm are unintended is moronic. The intent of a firearm is to be a weapon just like the intent of our freeway system in the United States is for national defense. If you are shot and injured by a firearm it’s not an unintended consequence it’s actually the consequence intended by the design of the device.

Carter regularly tries to help teens with gun troubles. He works with Cody Nelson, a 17-year-old from St. Paul who accidentally killed 16-year-old Daron Smith in December in a misbegotten game of Russian roulette.

Russian roulette isn’t an accident. You are intentionally placing a firearm to your head and pulling the trigger while hoping for an empty chamber. You’re still intentionally loading a gun, putting it to your head, and pulling the trigger.

Carter talked about 17-year-old Alisha Neeley who died when struck by a stray bullet outside a teen party in north Minneapolis.

Once again most likely a crime not an accident. If this article would have been titled kids and guns at least some legitimacy could be derived from these examples. But once again the claim is a focus on accidents. If these types of examples are listed in the statistical data used by the article than the data is flawed and thus no valid conclusion can be derived from it.

Now one of the quotes in this article both irritate me and make my case for firearm education:

“It’s like a game of chess,” McGonigal said of teens understanding actions and consequences. “As an amateur, you can see one step ahead. An expert sees six steps ahead. Expecting kids to put two plus two plus two plus two together on their own isn’t realistic. Parents or schools have to help them make the decisions.”

So apparently children are too stupid to add 2 + 2 + 2? Shit I could do that before I started school. Yeah I know that’s not what he meant but I needed to insert a little humor into this article. Beyond bad examples that have nothing to do with accidents the article also contains some other points to note:

In a culture that not only makes guns easily available, but celebrates the possession of weapons, young people cannot distinguish between being cool and the risk of being wounded or killed accidentally, said Phelps Boys and Girls Club director Mark Graves.

In other words the kids need to be educated. A simple firearm safety class shows you what happens if you are shot. Likewise it would teach proper firearm handling.

That means the number of accidental shootings of young people remain stubbornly consistent in urban and rural areas, said the U’s Resnick.

Consistent and low in rural areas where firearm education is practically a given.

The teenager who killed Matis’ son pointed what he thought was an unloaded handgun at Brandon’s face and pulled the trigger.

Rule one of firearm safety. Also a violation of rule two. Again education.

Finally the article contains one completely irrelevant statistic:

The Star Tribune also found that in 2008, Minnesota children ages 10 to 14 had a greater chance of being accidentally wounded by firearms than being hit by cars.

Considering kids don’t get driver licenses until they turn 16 it seems very plausible. Likewise the definition of hit by a car has two meanings. The first means they are physically hit by a vehicle and the other means they are inside of a car when it is hit by another car. In the latter case generally speaking only the driver is considered to be hit by a car. Either way the exposure to vehicles is much less for youths and thus they are less likely to be involved in such an accident.

Exposure to firearms on the other hand is higher being kids spend much of their time at home where parents generally have firearms. This is where education matters. If you’re a parent with young children you should have your firearms securely stored (for instance your carry piece should be on your hip so you know where it is and thus have control over it at all times). When your children are old enough to grasp concepts you should teach them the rules of firearm safety as well as the consequences of disobeying those rules.

Another thing that is important is getting kids over the mysticism of firearms. Kids are always curious about things they’ve had no exposure to. For instances many kids are fascinated by automobiles right up to the point they’ve been driving for a while. So beyond education it is smart to expose your children to firearms in a safe environment so you get rid of that curiosity. Take your children shooting when they want to go shooting.

A combination of education and exposure would probably eliminate a majority of accidents involving firearms and youth. Guns aren’t scary bogeymen who will kill your children if left unattended. No guns are tools without a mind nor conscious of their own. They have no ability to think, no desire, and no ability to make decisions. If used properly firearms are perfectly safe tools. It’s only when used improperly that they become dangerous devices (do note I don’t consider self defense shootings a dangerous use of firearms by a safe use by virtue they keep the user of the gun safe).

Nice try Star Tribune but your article falls to pieces in seconds along with your “argument.”

2 thoughts on “A Case for Firearm Safety Education”

  1. Why don’t people realize that abstinence only education is dumb, regardless of subject? Everyone should know Cooper’s 4 rules by second grade–That could be done without advocating a particular view on guns.

    1. You are correct. In fact there is no such thing as abstinence only education because education implies learning.

      Saying something may have bad side effects so you shouldn’t do it only encourages people to do it. People by nature are curious and therefore want to try out as many things as possible. Most people, especially use Americans (thankfully), are rebellious to a point and take at least some satisfaction in doing the opposite of what we’re told.

      As you said you can teach basic firearm safety without any bias for or against firearms. This is done all the time with automobiles. The problem is our education system leans strongly towards the “progressive” mindset whom see guns as a disease and hence don’t want their children exposed to them in any way, shape, or form (which is impossible in this country, thankfully).

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