As reported, a 4 year old boy became upset when a 17 year old stepped on his foot. The 4 year old left the room in an angry manner, saying that he was going to get a gun, but his relatives thought he was joking. He walked to a bedroom in the home, and took a 20 gauge single-shot shotgun out from a closet. He then took a single birdshot shell from a drawer, and loaded it into the chamber. Then, he returned to the living room and shot the 17 year old in the arm and side. The parents stated that the 4 year old boy had seen others use the shotgun, but had never been taught about guns. The father’s response to this shooting was to say that he is getting rid of all guns from the home. To me, this seems to be poor parenting, both before and after the shooting:
Poor parenting before the shooting
First, I’ve previously talked about the important of safe and responsible gun storage. Leaving a gun and ammo out so that it is accessible to a 4 year old child is about as irresponsible as it gets. Gun safes are not that expensive, and at least storing the gun and ammo out of reach would have prevented this shooting. Secondly, this child should have been taught the basics of gun safety. Children who learn gun safety, and to shoot under responsible adult supervision, are drastically less likely to misuse guns or be involved in unintentional shootings. Gun safety is something that every child should know – especially if there are guns left lying around their home.
Poor parenting after the shooting
Also disconcerting is the father’s decision to get rid of the guns. This knee jerk reaction doesn’t really address the problem of a child who doesn’t know about gun safety. Even with the guns gone from that house, the child could encounter a gun at a friend’s house, or later on in life, and end up being involved in another such shooting. Also, getting rid of the guns leaves his family vulnerable to home invaders. My humble suggestion would be to keep the guns, but store them responsibly, and teach everyone in the home about gun safety.
My thanks to Anders for pointing out this story.