I've been hearing a lot of PSA's from a website known as End Family Fire [https://endfamilyfire.org/] and I went to take a look at it the other day. The radio PSA’s are a (simulated?) 911 call where the parent is screaming about “the gun was loaded.” I am sure this is meant to stimulate a parent’s worst fears, that of their child being seriously injured or dead. Looking at the site, I am amazed by several things, first of all it actually sounds reasonable. But if you excuse the pun that's a little disarming and that's probably intentional. They have three main points.
Their points are,
- Eight children are wounded or killed every day in unintentional shootings.
- You should lock your firearm with a trigger or breach lock, keeping the ammunition separate from the weapon, and;
- Talk to your children about gun safety.
I will now address these point by point.
Eight Children a Day.
My stats, provided by WISQARS (from the CDC) shows in 2017, the last year for data, for the 0-17 age range (because 18 and 19 year-old people are ADULTS and not children) there were 6,634 injuries by “Unintentional BB/Pellet or gunshot” (0.1% of all unintentional injuries and #20 on the list) and 69 deaths, (1.6% of all deaths and #10 on the list).
According to my math, this works out to 18.3 per day. To cut it to the 8 a day, they would have to only count 2,851 of those non-fatal injuries. To put that into perspective, for every child which received a non-fatal shooting injury, there’s 9 who were injured in an “unintentional pedestrian” event, or 41 for getting hurt on a bicycle.
I will stipulate their stats are accurate because I could not separate the BB gun and firearm injuries. Are they preventable? I can agree to that. My problem with them, as detailed below, actually goes to fixing the problem, not a nebulous “raising awareness.”
Storing the weapon.
Let me specify that I am talking only about weapons meant for immediate use in a home invasion or other such event. Most weapons in the home will be stored unloaded. Ammunition may or may not be near by. The military term for immediate use is “Ready Five,” meaning an aircraft sits on the tarmac (or carrier deck) fully fueled, armed, with crew nearby and can launch in five minutes or less from the order to launch.
In 99% of the cases and reasons for having a loaded firearm easily accessible in the first place is to return fire in case of a home invasion. For as long as I have been a member of the NRA (30 years now) every month I got a magazine (until I went digital) and one page was called The Armed Citizen. The page had about a dozen synopsis' of local news stories where people used their firearm to defend friends and family from Bad People. That means I've been sent about 4,300 of these news articles. The chance of you having your home broken into while you're home is going to be very small. If it does happen, there is a very high chance of serious injury or death happening to you.
End Family Fire suggests that you store your firearm and your ammunition separately. The weapon should also have a trigger or breech lock. For those who are interested in home self-defense this seriously hampers the ability of the homeowner to quickly respond. It would take a significant amount of time (1-2 minutes) to bring the weapon to a usable condition when you only have 10-15 seconds to grab the weapon and engage the invaders. In situations like this, seconds literally do count and 1-2 minutes is too long. You’re dead.
Now, a pin-coded safe I would consider to be superior to a trigger/breech lock, as the weapon could be stored in Condition Two (loaded magazine in the weapon, no round in the chamber), quickly retrieved, brought to ready and used. Not to mention that in a stressful situation, the first thing to go is fine motor skills. Locating and inserting the correct key in a lock, or spinning small tumblers to the correct combination would be a lot harder and time consuming.
Talk with your kids.
This is where End Family Fire totally fails. Okay, “talk with the kids.” What should you say? I’m sure this kind of talk would be up there with “the birds and the bees” discussion. It would have been great if there was a tip sheet with points for the parent to consider, research and discuss with their kids. But there’s nothing to be found.
When my son was a preschooler, he would come and visit me in the garage when I was re-loading ammunition or maintaining my weapons. I had printed a sign that was at his eye level and these were the first words he learned to read. Those words were the four firearm safety laws. He had to recite them every time he came out to see me.
- A firearm is always loaded.
- Never point a firearm at something that you do not want to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
- Always be sure of your target and what is behind it.
The only materials End Family Fire has are PSA’s and brochures that “raise awareness” but do nothing to address the issue.
If you really want to stop incidents like this, there are two simple and easy things to do. Defang the serpent and teach them age appropriate things to do when they find a firearm.
Defang the serpent.
This one requires some of your time. During your talk with your kids, let them know you will tell them anything they want to know about firearms, within their ability to comprehend of course. If they can inspect (unloaded) firearms under your direct supervision, pretty much any time they want, those firearms lose their allure and the kids lose their curiosity about them.
Age appropriate training.
The Eddie Eagle program, developed by the NRA 30 years ago teaches pre-school and elementary kids four simple steps on what to do when they find a firearm.
- DON’T TOUCH!
- LEAVE THE AREA!
- TELL AN ADULT!
It doesn’t confuse kids about firearms being “bad,” or they might “go off” or anything like that. Don’t touch it, get away from it (and the person holding it) and tell an adult. This program gives children clear and simple actions that they can easily remember, articulate and perform. It really can’t be any simpler than that. This is what you should talk about with your kids.
As I alluded to in the title of this post, the Liberal way to address this issue is to “raise awareness” among adults by inducing panic and fear, then abandon the parents after telling them they need to "talk with their kids," but not knowing what to say or cover. Which, unfortunately, will most likely be the wrong thing.
The Conservative way to address this issue is to defang the serpent by satisfying the kid’s curiosity so they don’t go behind your back to find and handle the firearms unsupervised, then give them clear and simple actions to do if they find a gun, like when playing at a friend’s house who then pulls out their parents gun.
Instill fear and panic in parents, or teach the children to almost eliminate the problem in the first place. Which do you think you would (or should) choose?