As reported, an 8 year old and an 11 year old boy in Houston, TX were playing with guns inside of a house. The 8 year old boy was fatally shot in what police are calling an accident.
Detectives with the Houston Police Department said the 11-year-old and 8-year-old found two guns inside an upstairs bedroom at a home near Hobby Airport in southeast Houston. Police said the boys didn’t think the gun was loaded because there was no magazine, but there was a round in the chamber.
The death of a child is always tragic and heartbreaking. As a parent, I cannot imagine how terrible it must be to lose a child. My sympathy goes out to the family.
However, what makes this sort of death all the more tragic is that it was entirely preventable, as there is no such thing as an accidental shooting. Such shootings are more properly called “negligent shootings” as they are the result of one or more humans failing to exercise a basic minimum level of care that it is reasonable to expect everyone to exercise.
Guns should be locked in a safe or otherwise secured when not in use. When it comes to children and guns, small children should not be left unsupervised with a firearm. All children should be taught not to play with gun themselves, and to not stick around while another child plays with a gun.
My wife and I have a four year old daughter, who has seen our everyday carry pistols just about every day of her life. She has seen our rifles and shotguns, and watched trapshooting from a distance were the sound was not too much for her. She has her own youth .22 that she has fired while my wife and I carefully held both her and the rifle. Our daughter knows that guns say “boom” and that she can never touch a gun unless mom and dad are there with her and give her permission. She knows that guns can hurt her, just like a hot stove can hurt her, but that both guns and stoves are useful objects for adults. I have no doubt in my mind that were our daughter to encounter a negligently stored gun at a friend’s house, she would follow the safety instructions we have given her.
What is needed is gun safety education for both adults children. Gun safety training for adults ensures that gun owners have the knowledge they need to safely and responsibly store their guns, while the gun safety training for children will help prevent children from playing with a gun, should they ever find one. Vilifying guns and opposing gun safety education for children will only ensure that tragedies like the one in Huston happen again.