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Guns Again: 4-Year-Old Shoots Babysitter

If ever any parent needed yet another reason to be wary of having a gun in a house with children, this story out of Jackson County, Ohio, is it.

A 4-year-old, angry that his babysitter stepped on his foot, "retrieved a shell from a drawer in a back bedroom, grabbed a 20-gauge single-shot shotgun from a closet and loaded the weapon," according to a report in the Columbus Dispatch. The boy then returned to the living room and shot the 17-year-old babysitter. The babysitter sustained pellet wounds to his arm and side but is expected to recover.

The boy's father said he'd seen others load and shoot weapons but had never been taught himself. "The guns are gone out of our house," the father told the Dispatch. "They're not going to be around with the kids anymore. It's not worth it."

When we last discussed guns in houses with children, several readers chimed in that education and gun safes are big parts of the solution.

"I am a woman with a gun in the house. I was raised around guns and have never known anyone raised around gun, who learned the rules, to be hurt. It is those hysterical families who bring in a gun and neglect basic instruction who cause problems," wrote gun owning grandmom. "You don't want your kids around guns? Fine, but you still need to teach them what to do, and what NOT to do, if and when they come upon a gun. Guns have been around for centuries and they'll be around for still more. Get your head out of the sand and live with reality."

"We have guns in our house (there, I've said it!)," wrote tsp 2007. "They are kept unloaded and locked and the ammo is locked away separately from the guns. You would have to know where to look to put the two together. We don't have kids yet; when we do, we will absolutely be getting a gun safe as well. My husband enjoys target practice at the range and skeet and I don't see why he shouldn't; on the other hand I believe it is absolutely our responsibility to put as many safety procedures in place as possible, which includes the foregoing as well as proper education. I see it as no different than putting a fence and alarms around a pool, or keeping medicine and household chemicals behind childproof doors."

Is tsp 2007 right? Are having guns in the house -- so long as they are kept locked up -- no different than having a pool or keeping cleaning supplies in a cabinet under the sink or having prescription drugs in the medicine cabinet?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  January 7, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Preschoolers
Previous: The Things Teens Post Online | Next: When Is It Worth Torpedoing Eat/Wake/Sleep Routine?

Comments


Why were there guns at the kid's grandmother's house (mobile home)? Another teen was injured during the shooting. The kid must have been REALLY mad.

Posted by: jezebel3 | January 7, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Yes, tsp 2007 was and is right.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | January 7, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Yes, tsp 2007 was and is right.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | January 7, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

When tsp 2007 has a kid, she'll have a lot more credibilty with me.

Posted by: jezebel3 | January 7, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

i grew up with an unloaded shotgun in the corner of my bedroom. the shells were kept in my parents bedroom. when i was old enough to stay home alone with my kid brother (around 11 or 12) my father showed me how to load it and explained if anyone comes in the house this will take their thigh off and to use. i never had to use it and was never curious.

Posted by: nall92 | January 7, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I'm certainly no fan of guns, but I don't think owning guns and having children are necessarily mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, it seems that all too many parents are irresponsible about their weapons.

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the premeditation in this little psychopath's actions. To go through all of the steps to retrieve the proper equipment and load the gun, that kid had to know exactly what he was doing and what kind of harm he'd be causing. I hope his parents get that kid some serious help before he really kills someone.

Posted by: newsahm | January 7, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the premeditation in this little psychopath's actions. To go through all of the steps to retrieve the proper equipment and load the gun, that kid had to know exactly what he was doing and what kind of harm he'd be causing. I hope his parents get that kid some serious help before he really kills someone.

Posted by: newsahm | January 7, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse


The whole story is "fishy". And raises more questions than it answers. LOL! It's more likely that the teen baby sitters, one of whom was the kid's uncle, were fooling around with the gun and the injuries occurred.

Posted by: jezebel3 | January 7, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Both our kids were raised with firearms in the house. Both were taught safe handling techniques at a young age, because kids are naturally curious. Our guns were (and are still) kept locked up. Schools could be of help here too, by teaching kids about guns rather than telling them merely "Guns are bad". I am not a fan of the NRA, but they have the Eddie Eagle program which is a great tool to show kids safe handling, and what to do if a kid finds a gun, say at a friends house. Stop, don't touch, go tell an adult. I agree with Jezebel3, and think that there is more to this story than meets the eye. And calling a 4 year old a "psychopath" is ridiculous, don't ya think??

Posted by: pwhited | January 7, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the premeditation in this little psychopath's actions. To go through all of the steps to retrieve the proper equipment and load the gun, that kid had to know exactly what he was doing and what kind of harm he'd be causing. I hope his parents get that kid some serious help before he really kills someone.

Posted by: newsahm | January 7, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

--------------------

I don't know whether the kid is a psychopath, but I'm sure he didn't fully appreciate what he was doing. (I guess if he didn't, then he would be a psychopath by definition.) If he had never been trained with the gun and had never experienced shooting it before, his only experience would have been from TV or video games. Those don't fully communicate the reality of a gun blast.

In terms of the kid's temper, he probably learned that from dad/mom.

Posted by: Good2bOK | January 7, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

My father was a cop. So I grew up with guns around the house. They were always unloaded and locked up. Amio was kept locked in a different location.

Guns and children can be OK if you handle it correctly.

That being said, I never had any interest in owning a gun.

I think there is more to the story. Plus four year olds don't know the difference between real and pretend. I don't think it is unusual for a four year old to think a real gun is fake and vice versa. I see little boys all the time with fake weapons. It just appears to be something with little boys.

Gun safety is the key.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 7, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I'm missing something, but if the only reason tsp 2007 has guns around is so her husband can go skeet shooting, why do they need to be in the house? Does the range have some kind of gun locker? Could they store the guns in an off-site storage facility? Seems like that's the best way (if the point of your guns is recreational) to really make sure they are out of the hands of kids.

Posted by: jbs280 | January 7, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

This topic always hits so close to home for me. My father had guns and would show them to us sometimes but told us in no uncertain terms to never touch them. In addition, we didn't really know where they were kept at. I never was interested in them. Someone down the street had a military father (like me) who also had guns and told his children the same kinds of things. One of his children (age 15) took one of the guns one day to scare his other friend by "shooting" him in the neck and the gun went off and killed the friend. This young man was only 17, about to start high school and was a good friend of my family. Some children will remain curious no matter what their parents tell them. I was in the middle on whether guns in the home are appropriate or not before then; since that time I will never have a gun or allow one in my home. The risks are too great and I never want that on my conscience.

Posted by: lafilleverte | January 7, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I too grew up around guns, and to this day I am fond of them. They are, however, not for everyone, and I have concern for the idea that more people should be armed.
1. No matter how careful, everybody has at least one close call - or worse - if they are in it long enough. All things in life are like that, but think of the potential in the instance of guns.

2. Most people are not capable of maintaining the endless discipline required to keep the risks to a minimum around the household. Newbees are vulnerable once the novelty and the glamor and the buzz of new self reliance wear off. When these weaken so does the caution.

3. Most people are just people. You object to the way a lot of them drive their cars? You want them heavily armed too?

Posted by: j616 | January 7, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, don't like guns, don't own them, never will. That said, I have to wonder if this 4 year old would have found a knife, or a baseball bat, or some other weapon if the gun wasn't available. If this was my 4 year old, he'd be getting some serious help right about now.

Posted by: jjtwo | January 7, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

My father was a cop. So I grew up with guns around the house. They were always unloaded and locked up. Amio was kept locked in a different location.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 7, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse


Amio!

Posted by: jezebel3 | January 7, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

If the babysitter would have had a gun, she would have been able to shoot the kid before he did her any harm. Survival of the fittest. Plus, she shouldn't have stepped on his foot.

Proud NRA member

Posted by: 6925thCobras | January 7, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I grew up with guns in the house. My father enjoyed target shooting and was a member of a local gun club. My parents made sure we understood guns were not toys and under no circumstances were we allowed to touch them without adult supervision. We were taken to the shooting range with my father and saw how they worked and then we got a turn shooting. This took away any curiosity about the guns we had. The guns were always locked up at home.

This method worked with us. My dad had his hobby and was willing to take us to the range whenever we wanted to go with him. He showed us in the proper environment how they worked and made sure we understood they were off limits to us when he wasn't around. This gave us a healthy respect for guns and their power.

Posted by: Merdi | January 7, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

"Are having guns in the house -- so long as they are kept locked up -- no different than having a pool or keeping cleaning supplies in a cabinet under the sink or having prescription drugs in the medicine cabinet?"

Yes.

Interesting that you don't suggest today that parents should sell their cars in order to avoid some 6 year old driving the family car to school one day.

Adults don't do kids any favors by eliminating from their lives any item that could - if misused by someone with no training or respect for it - harm them. Pools, meds, guns, cars, words. Training and respect, people.

Posted by: anonfornow | January 7, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

tsp is wrong. I am no NRA disciple. I feel that hand guns should have severe limits, but less than 1,000 kids die from drowning in the US per year, vs over 4,000 fire arm deaths. According to the CDC, drowning and poisoning combined were 10% of deaths, and firarms were 21%.

Sorry tsp, study your facts, then lock up your guns.

Posted by: mty917 | January 7, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

" Most people are just people. You object to the way a lot of them drive their cars? You want them heavily armed too?"

Nicely put.

Posted by: floof | January 7, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe I'm missing something, but if the only reason tsp 2007 has guns around is so her husband can go skeet shooting, why do they need to be in the house? Does the range have some kind of gun locker? Could they store the guns in an off-site storage facility?"


Really? Do you store your tennis shoes at the gym? I keep my personal property at my residence.

Posted by: anonfornow | January 7, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

mty917, where did you get your facts? I've looked at ftp://ftp.cdc.gov/pub/ncipc/10LC-2004/JPEG/10lC-unintentional.jpg, for example (CDC's numbers for 2004).

The leading cause of "injury death" for all age groups from 1 through 64 is "unintentional motor vehicle/traffic". For ages 1-4, drowning is number 2 with 430 deaths; homicide/firearm is 10th with 36 deaths; and no other firearm-related category breaks the top 10. For ages 5-9, there are almost three times as many drownings (131) as firearm-related homicides (45) and again no firearm accidents make the list.

For ages 10-14, firearm homicides top drownings (139-138), and firearm suicides (8th) and unintentional firearm deaths (10th) first make the list. No explanation is given, but I would suspect that that's the age at which some children are first given guns, or really become aware of them.

For ages 15-24, the numbers change dramatically (firearm homicides are second with firearm suicides fourth) but even then firearm-related accidents don't crack the top 10. Not to mention that most people don't consider 18-24 year olds to be "kids" any more; they're adults.

You can always lie with statistics; just never to a statistician. (Yes, I'm an engineer but there is that pesky Master's Degree in Stats. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | January 7, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Well, off the bat, I can think of one significant difference between guns and pools/meds/cleaning supplies: With a gun, it's a lot easier for a child to hurt someone else in addition to him/herself. It's pretty hard for a kid to accidentally force someone to ingest Windex.

Posted by: jbs280 | January 7, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

And anonfornow, no, I don't keep my tennis shoes at the gym, but I can't blow someone's brains out with them either. You're comparing apples and grenades.

Posted by: jbs280 | January 7, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

"I feel that hand guns should have severe limits, but less than 1,000 kids die from drowning in the US per year, vs over 4,000 fire arm deaths."

Cite please for the over 4,000 firearms deaths statistics. Sounds like an apples and oranges comparison. Even advocacy organization like Safe Kids USA only claim 67 child deaths per year for 2003, the last year for which they present data. To get a number as high as 4,000, you'd have to raise the age to 20 (not exactly kids, mind you) and aggregate ALL deaths by firearms, including drivebys, personal vendettas, collateral victims of domestic violence and other incidents that have nothing to do with whether there was an unlocked gun stored in a home with a child.

More kids under 20 die from farm injuries each year - 94 - than die from unintentional gun shootings. Is it irresponsible for parents to farm if they have kids?

Posted by: anonfornow | January 7, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

"Guns don't kill people, 4 year olds do!" Sounds like a great bumper sticker, especially if you're a 6 year old driving your parents car to school.

Posted by: madmax8600 | January 7, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I grew up with guns and my son grew up with guns. It is all on how you teach responsibility and disipline to your children. We always had a locked gun cabinet and mom or dad usually always had the key.

If this story is true as told, the parents of this 4 year-old seemed to have failed this child in teaching him right from wrong as well as failing to teach him proper human interactions.

Posted by: skramsv | January 7, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I'm curious about the 4 y.o.'s ability to actually handle the gun. Can someone explain the size of a 20 gauge to me? I've looked online for pics but I'm no better off. Knowing how to load it is one thing, but lifting it, holding it, and having the arm length to pull the trigger (does that make sense?) -- am I really that naive to agree w/jezebel3 that the story is fishy?

Posted by: 1herndon | January 7, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

We had guns in the house--my father hunted.
The rule laid down was: Don't ever touch the guns. We never touched the guns; we never even entertained the idea of going near the guns. This is called PARENTING. When you set guidelines, establish rules, children listen.

Posted by: IIntgrty | January 7, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

You just need to use common sense -- keep the guns locked away from the kids, and when the kids are older, train them in proper handling of weapons so they understand how dangerous they are. It's the same as kid-proofing the kitchen cabinets so toddlers can't get at and drink bleach, and when they are old enough to understand, teaching them about Mr. Yuk. And yes, I had a small child in the same household with guns for years.

Posted by: MrM1 | January 7, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I am impressed that the 4 year old was able to find the gun and shells, load it properly, click the safety off, shut the barrell, aim and hit anything. I have a hard enough ime getting my 7 yr old to remember the steps to throw his plate in the sink and wash it off.........

Posted by: pwaa | January 7, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

And if the kid had stabbed his sitter, would you be advocating getting rid of kitchens?

Posted by: fm_smoak | January 7, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

When you set guidelines, establish rules, children listen.

Posted by: IIntgrty | January 7, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse


Really? Is it that easy? Who knew?

Posted by: jezebel3 | January 7, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

IIntgrty, your comments are reminding me of comments I made a few weeks back regarding kids wandering. I pretty much had the same sentiment: where are your rules? But, when I reread what I'd written, trying to understand why so many people were offended (esp. those whose kids DID wander), I realized I'd made the absolute most ignorant statements. I was basing my comments on wandering on my children and my household and what is not tolerated. But, at the same time, just b/c I don't tolerate it (it's never even been attempted, though), doesn't mean anyone else here tolerates it -- yet it can still happen.

Just b/c you say no doesn't always mean the child will adhere. The guns need to be put away, certainly. But just b/c you tell your 16 y.o. not to touch it, does that always mean s/he won't touch it? So, to agree with jezebel3 again (good lawd, twice in one day?!): really? is it that easy? who knew?

Posted by: 1herndon | January 7, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Several comments;

1. A shotgun is typically about 48" overall. In other words 4 feet! I do find it a bit strange that a 4 year old would be able to handle such a large weapon.

2. Let's put the blame where it belongs, on the parents. The shotgun and ammo were obliviously not properly stored.

3. As far as pool/meds/cleaning supplies, they are indeed just as dangerous and can be just as lethal as a weapon. Try mixing bleach and ammonia just once. Or throwing some powdered chlorine in someone's face.

4. Automobile accidents are by far the most common cause of childhood deaths. Maybe if the hysteria level around auto accidents were as high as around firearms deaths, more children would be alive.

Posted by: nonamehere | January 7, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I agree that it would seem there's more to the story than we know. Either that, or the child is a sociopath in the making.

I loathe guns, always have. Their sole purpose is to kill. fm_smoak, knives have other use, so the argument doesn't stand. I was raised with a gun in the house, though I never knew about it until I was in college. That's the only way to keep a gun in the house with kids around -- don't admit its existence. People who think they need to tell a child where the gun and ammo is kept "for safety purposes" are kidding themselves. Home invasions are so rare, unless you're living some kind of criminal life.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 7, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Uh, that would be obviously not obliviously.

As others have commented, this story just doesn't really add up. I have noticed that in some similar cases (very young child shoots someone) that someone else did the shooting and a cover story was concocted since no 4 year old will be put in the slammer!

Posted by: nonamehere | January 7, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Prodigious isn't he? Shouldn't we be thinking about the kind of exposure our kids are getting? I can't imagine any kid of 4 back here in India being able to know what to do with a gun.

Posted by: vitchdokta | January 7, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I grew up with loaded guns in the house. Not just guns in one locked closet, ammo in another locked drawer: loaded handguns and rifles, with the safety engaged, throughout the house. Heck, there was a loaded M1-carbine hanging in one closet. Do I need to mention that I was raised in a rural environment near the border to Mexico, where smugglers and coyotes would range through the area? Probably not.

But the upshot is this: I am the oldest of five and we would never have touched a gun unless somebody broke into the house. We knew perfectly well that guns exist to kill people and animals (pistols and rifles, respectively). We knew perfectly well that if we played with one of the guns, and it didn't kill us, my father would. End of story. It was a tool, like any other tool around the house, that you wouldn't dream of playing with. We were all trained to fire the guns, were great at moving and still targets, and knew which gun took the 9 mm bullets and which took the .45s. Heck, I knew what all of those different types of ammo cost at the sporting good store.

I never hear about people worrying that their kid will go out in the garage and get the table saw going, or fire up the lawn mower. Or play with the power drill. Those things are also dangerous, we see our parents use them, and yet we don't consider going out and playing with them unsupervised -- why are guns different? I don't know, I'm just asking the question.

I do not have guns in the house, but I'm starting to think about buying a .22 and keeping it unloaded in the house. I have kids, they are not the product of a rural environment like I am, and they do not believe in their hearts that I will take them out if they step out of line. I suppose that is a good thing - but it does limit my willingness to risk leaving them hanging around with a gun.

But they know how to shoot one. Their Grandfather taught them.

Posted by: badmommy | January 7, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Well, here in very rural, wooded Jackson County, a lot of folks do a significant amount of hunting (deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, etc.), so the kid probably had significant exposure to how the gun worked. (I think the boy's father was out hunting at the time of the incident, as a matter of fact.) Still, that doesn't mitigate the impact of a four-year-old blasting away at his (male) babysitter.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | January 7, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

clearly my sense of humor is far too dark...my first thought when i saw the headline was, "But did the babysitter deserve it?!"

We've got guns. They're kept locked in safes at all times, but we extra triple-check the safes anytime kids are coming into our house. (ours is only 4 months, so he's not getting into them yet!)

NO WAY a four-year-old did this. fundamentally physically and mentally impossible. Clearly the two teenage boy babysitters were fooling around, the shotgun went off, and they blamed the little boy to avoid charges. the parents are still criminally irresponsible to have guns not properly locked up. it takes constant discipline but isn't difficult.

Posted by: newslinks1 | January 7, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

badmommy- The reason the table saw or the powerdrill are not as concerning is that they aren't the stars of the majority of video games that boys play. When the buff dudes who can bench press Mac trucks and the even buffer chicks with 36FFF chests start using table saws to eliminate "the bad guys", then we can start comparing them. Right now though, guns are the stars of every video game, television show, movie, song, etc. that kids are watching. Yes, I know there are media kids watch that don't involve these, but the point is that kids are oversaturated with this stuff today.

Posted by: lafilleverte | January 7, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, a 10 year old stole the family car and almost wiped out a neighbor. After hearing about that I'm making sure the car is to be stored at the parking garage down the street and the keys locked up. Why would anyone need a car in the garage or outside on the street where they live?

Posted by: BigDwane | January 7, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Hey lafilleverte, I thought at least chainsaws were used in some of them. Duke Nukem, anyway. :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 7, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Yes, workingmomx, correct. But I think we can agree that the stars of the show are the guns. I've watched my boyfriend playing games and in some, you literally are carrying handguns, shotguns, rifles, and submachine guns on you AT THE SAME TIME and have tons of "bad guys" to off. I think a lot of parents don't realize how gory these things are and what their kids are really watching.

-Florida Chick

Posted by: lafilleverte | January 7, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what kind of rage problems this kid must have to shoot someone who stepped on his hand? Have the parents addressed this child's anger management issues? Or is there more to this story?

I was raised to shoot; I'm actually a pretty good shot, which is weird considering I have terrible eyesight. My mom and dad each have handguns and rifles in their homes, and my uncle taught me how to shoot handguns. My dad builds his own bullets and recycles his shells. Oddly, I don't have children OR guns, even though I was raised around them. I still have a healthy fear of them, possibly because I am fully aware of how deadly they can be. I'm not sure if education is the answer, but it seems to be on the surface, considering that I understand the depth of the dangers of irresponsible gun handling. Maybe too well--I am so afraid of guns that I don't trust myself to have one, and I can't think of any reason to have one. I'm not a gun hobbyist or a hunter, and I wouldn't use it for home security, as it is inefficient to keep the gun and ammo separate, or keep one or both locked in a safe. I don't particularly find guns useful for protection. I wonder what the stats are comparing those who have successfully protected their homes from invasions versus those who have been involved in accidents (or here, involved in deliberate assaults).

Posted by: Monagatuna | January 7, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

anonfornow said: "Do you store your tennis shoes at the gym? I keep my personal property at my residence."

Trouble abounds when someone compares tennis shoes to firearms in the house. Have you met anyone who admits that he/she hasn't learned the rules about gun safety? That he/she hasn't taught his/her kids adequately about gun safety?

"Guns have been around for centuries and they'll be around for still more. Get your head out of the sand and live with reality." Is that a good reason for having guns in the house? Women had been forbidden to vote for centuries too. There is a difference between necessity (e.g., there are people who owns guns as part of his/her job) and poor judgment.

Posted by: KT11 | January 7, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"And calling a 4 year old a "psychopath" is ridiculous, don't ya think??"

Nope. A kid that age is definitely old enough to understand that he could hurt someone by shooting them, especially if he'd been exposed to guns before and knew their purpose. The kid allegedly said he was mad, went to two different places in the house to get the parts to put together and went back and shot his babysitter. Those are not the actions of a normal child.

And as far as the idea that maybe the kid thought the gun was a toy, how many toy guns have you ever seen (aside from Nerf guns) that come with ammo? Nah, it if happened like the paper said it did, this kid had to know what he was doing.

Posted by: newsahm | January 7, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Nah, it if happened like the paper said it did, this kid had to know what he was doing.

Posted by: newsahm | January 7, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse


Read the MANY accounts of this story. There is something rotten in Denmark.

Posted by: jezebel3 | January 7, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The original blog posting ends with this question:
"Are having guns in the house -- so long as they are kept locked up -- no different than having a pool or keeping cleaning supplies in a cabinet under the sink or having prescription drugs in the medicine cabinet?"

I'm no fan of guns, but I do want to point out that having a swimming pool is much, much, much more dangerous than having a gun in the house. Far more children die from drowning than gunshots. For statistics, read the book Freakonomics.

Posted by: Katherine4 | January 7, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Guns have been around for centuries and they'll be around for still more. Get your head out of the sand and live with reality." Is that a good reason for having guns in the house? Women had been forbidden to vote for centuries too. There is a difference between necessity (e.g., there are people who owns guns as part of his/her job) and poor judgment.

I think you're missing the point of the orginal posting, which was "there are guns in the world, regardless of whether you choose to own them or not." Therefore, gun safety is something that should be taught to everyone, not just those who are gun owners. Shouldn't everyone know how to safely handle a gun even if they never have any intention of owning one? I kind of view it like CPR. It's an easy skill to acquire and may save a life.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 7, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"Happiness is a warm gun." John Lennon

Posted by: anonthistime | January 7, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

There is no reason that a 4 yr old should know how to load a gun and shoot it. I don't care if you live in the worst neighborhood or are an avid hunter. A 4 year does not have the ability to make rationale decisions and does not have the ability to "just be careful!" So if someone is showing their young child how to load a gun and shoot it for self defense in a what-if situation, chances are high that the child would shoot themselves or another family member first. (It would be like teaching your 6 yr old to drive just in case he/she misses the bus!! He/she will crash eventually and risk hurting several people.)

So there is a problem here with the 4yr old knowing where the gun and ammo was and knowing how to load it. And there is a problem when a 4 yr old seeks such serious revenge for getting his foot stepped on.

I am so torn about having guns in the house. (and no JBS280, you really don't store guns for hunting and skeet shooting at another location! It's just like having skis or tennis rackets and other "portable" recreational items) I grew up in a house with a "gun room" where my dad kept all of his shotguns and rifles. All of the "ammo" was kept in there as were his machines that would refill the empty shells (I don't know the right terminology- he shot skeet and would bring home the empty shells to refill and use again) My siblings and I would often help my dad refill the shells and occasionally he took us skeet shooting with him. But we knew that under no circumstances were we to EVER go into the gun room without him. The room was locked, but not with a key- just an ordinary hook/eye combo that anyone can undo if they are tall enough. I can't even imagine the trouble we would have gotten into if we had gone in there alone!!! But I guess if one of us was "unwell" and was tired of being harrassed at school, we could have easily helped ourselves to a gun or 2 and brought it to school. Or when a babysitter got on our case we could have shot her! So should we have had a dozen guns in our house growing up? I just don't know. I have small children now and do not have guns. Don't think I ever will either. But I do have a swimmming pool (with a 4 1/2 ft fence around it) and that poses its own dangers.

Those of you that compare shooting someone and stabbing them with a kitchen knife are missing a key point. Yes, a small child could kill someone with either item. But unless a teenager is Rambo or Crocodile Dundee, they are not going to get far on a "stabbing rampage" at their high school. A few people might get hurt and 1 or 2 might die, but a disaster like those at Columbine or VT is not going to happen with a kitchen knife. So we really should not be suggesting that people get rid of their knives and drain cleaners!!

Posted by: LBH219 | January 7, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Are you serious? There is no way that a 4 year old loaded, cocked, aimed and shot that gun! Especially because he was angry because the babysitter stepped on his foot...his male babysitter! There was supposidly another teen there, the two of them were probably messing around and when someone got hurt decided to blame it on the child. I don't care what anyone says, I am the mother of a 2 year old, Godmother of a 4 year old and the oldest of 6 children, I know what a 4 year old is capable of and it's sure as heck not shooting a gun...the part about this almost toddler "loading the gun" is the most unbelievable part! Come on!

Posted by: addisonsmom17 | January 7, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

If you look on the main page of the Post's website, there's a story today about a six-year-old who took his mother's car and drove ten miles on his way to school, before ultimately crashing into a pole. This seems to support tsp2007's idea that there are a lot of things around the hose that are really dangerous to kids. Guns get singled out (because most people don't have guns), but statistically speaking a car accident is a lot more likely than a gun incident.

Posted by: tomtildrum | January 7, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"and no JBS280, you really don't store guns for hunting and skeet shooting at another location! It's just like having skis or tennis rackets and other "portable" recreational items."

Yes, but "why not?" is my question. And unless there are kids accidently killing other people with tennis rackets, they aren't the same thing. If you're really serious about making sure your kids never get their hands on your hunting rifle, why not keep it out of the house entirely? You still get to skeet shoot or hunt or whatever, and your kids can't get to the guns. Worth the minor inconvenience? I think so.

Posted by: jbs280 | January 7, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why I even bother to comment on this topic anymore - there will always be folks with extreme views on both ends of the spectrum who will respond with vitriol to those with different views.

I was also raised as a "farm kid", and as a teen there was always a loaded shotgun in the corner of the dining room. When the "city folks" came out to their week end place and let their dog(s) run loose, it was important to be able to respond quickly before the d*mn dog killed a cow or pig or half the flock of chickens. Same thing with responding to a coyote, or to a weasel or fox in the henhouse.

Nobody (and I mean that!) in our rural community misused a gun. It simply didn't happen.

When a kid was old enough, they would take hunter safety on Saturday at the school. It was taught by the janitor/bus driver. And if anyone had *ever* messed up in the slightest, first the janitor would have taken the kid apart, then the school principal, and then the kid's parents would have had their turn with whatever was left of the kid.

I wasn't interested in hunting, but my sister became a minor celebrity of sorts. Her 12th birthday, when she became eligible for her first hunting license, was on the first day of deer season, and she got her deer before noon that day, with one shot straight through the heart. Training!

But I want to be clear that it wasn't just the training of six weeks (or however long the course took) in hunter safety. It was the entire culture of the place and time. From infancy, everyone knew there were guns in all the homes, and everyone knew the same set of rules for safety. It was like any other cultural taboo that's strictly agreed to and enforced by everyone.

We don't have that same culture overall, and while I have a gun in my home - long story about an attempted break-in when I was 20 and living in my first apartment - it's not kept loaded.

My younger son "discovered" it in the top of the back of my closet about three years ago. Never mind that both boys had been told where it was, and that they weren't allowed to touch it, or even go into that closet for any reason. (Same rules about my closet in the previous places we've lived.) Kids *will* forget whatever lesson isn't drilled into them continually. And my kids aren't getting the same kind of continual repetition of the lessons I got as a rural youngster.

Older son got a BB gun from my father for Christmas when he was eight or nine. He's 16 now, and much to Grandpa's disappointment he's still never fired that BB gun even once. I don't have an objection, but the boy refuses to touch his own gun. Younger son has a couple of pellet guns and targets, and is now permitted to use them in our back yard with minimal adult supervision, because he's had me standing over him since he got the first one, and got it slapped out of his hand when he wasn't sufficiently careful with it. Just as my father's training worked with his kids - a few stinging slaps have made my lessons stick in my kid's brain.

But if parents aren't willing (or able) to make, and *KEEP*, a commitment to continual reenforcement and re-education of safety lessons, it's probably best not to have even toy/BB/pellet guns around.

Posted by: SueMc | January 7, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I do think the guns and ammo should be locked up.

I also think that liquor should be locked up too. When I think back to the stupid things that we all did as kids, the phrase, "but for the grace of God go I..." applies. Beer and wine that is line of sight for the parents is unlikely to be abused, but occasionally used bottles of liquor, don't ask how I know.

Lock up everything that people (kids AND grown ups) should think twice about using.

Posted by: robinWL | January 7, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in Harlem, New York and have seen a little bit of everything pertaining to guns. I've seen friends shoot themselves playing w/ guns (one shot his own eye out!), I've seen friends shoot friends in a heated argument only 'cause he had a gun (over a girl), I've seen police shoot people for no reason, I've seen others get shot for stupid reasons (one guy owed another $6 in a crap game and refused to pay, so he shot him dead!), I've seen kids get shot being in the wrong place at the wrong time (at the playground during a basketball argument), and after all this I would never want to hold, own or fire a gun in my life. I've seen so many injuries and death due to guns that I barely watch action or killer movies, I've seen worse in real life. I've watched people breathe their last breath, and to this day I still have nightmares about some of the things i've seen. It's almost like being in Vietnam... and while we send our troops overseas to fight, we are fighting the biggest fight of our lives here on our own soil w/ our own guns!

Posted by: mzmocha27 | January 8, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

When I was growing up I stayed at my aunt and uncle's house quite a bit, and there were guns all over the place because my uncle and counsins hunted. Some were not locked up. And some were loaded. I was told as soon as I was old enough to understand that I was never to touch a gun. And I never did.

But that's ME. We are all unique individuals, a fact that most - if not all - of the comments about this article seem to leave out. The media and mainstream culture seem to usually forget this fact, because it's much more convenient to paint everyone with the same brush.

It seems to me that implying that all children will react the same way to various parental approaches to having (or not having) guns in the home is a much too simplistic (and naive) way to view human behavior.

Yes, I never even so much as thought about touching my uncle's guns. But another child might have. So it would seem that the only way to be 100% sure children will never hurt themselves or others with guns kept in their homes is that either the guns are kept very securely locked up at all times or that guns simply not be kept in homes with children. There is always room for error in the human equation.

Posted by: busybeelove | January 13, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

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