Monday evening brought yet another gun “accident” with a child finding and using a loaded, unsecured firearm. This time the tragedy is in New Jersey, where six-year-old Brandon Holt was shot and killed by a four-year-old with his father’s 22 rifle. 48 hours earlier the scene was in Lebanon Tennessee in a Deputy Sheriff’s bedroom.
Writing about a child being killed with a gun that was “just laying around”, or a child shooting and killing another person should not be a daily exercise. But, this is America, and a large, loud minority of this country’s population has said, unequivocally that the 600 accidental deaths per year by gun violence, that the 16,000 injuries from gun accidents are “a price for freedom”. Since January 1 of this year over 50 children have paid that price for freedom that they will never enjoy, another 140 teens have died as well. Another 5,000 families have had their lives turned upside down by injuries from accidental gunfire.
It is past time for the gun rights folks to go door to door and ask those 5,200 families whose lives have been turned upside down this year if unfettered gun access and lack of regulations to enforce responsibility are really worth it. It is easy for the gun rights folks to talk a good game of “price of freedom” when they don’t have to personally pay the price.
Monday evening, in Tom’s River, New Jersey a four year old boy went into his home, and retrieved a 22 rifle from inside the house and took it outside and shot his six year old friend. Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy said “it was his understanding that the 4-year-old got the rifle from inside his house, and that was when he went outside and one shot was fired in the side yard.”
The parents of the four year old were home at the time…and the child simply picked up the rifle and took it out to play with his friend.
Two families are in total disarray, the family of the child who was shot watched by his hospital bed as he died from a fatal gunshot wound to the head. The family of the child who shot his friend is in limbo as they await the police investigation; await litigation from the injured boy’s family. Neither family will be the same.
Society will, as is usual, rally around the two families, telling us just how sorry the gun owner was and how he didn’t, in a thousand years, think this would ever happen. Prosecutors will call it a “tragic accident” and, yet again, nobody will be held responsible for a child with a bullet in his head.
So, unfortunately, let’s go through this one more time. According to the CDC 600 people are accidentally killed each year by gunfire, another 16,000 injured by accidental gunfire. These numbers are NOT included in the 10,000 or so deaths by gun violence each year that are considered homicide and they are not included in the 20,000 or so suicides that occur in this country each year by guns. But that is the human “price of freedom” and it is paid in blood and tears and, on the analytical side, it is paid by taxpayer dollars that provide EMS, emergency rooms, Medicaid and police; and increased insurance premiums for medical emergencies and homeowners’ policies to cover the costs of hospital bills and lawsuits.
“The price of freedom” is a terrible, unthinkable rationalization that insists that somehow Americans should give their lives, protected both under the Constitution and by every set of mores in the civilized world. To put a hobby, a paranoia of marauding hordes, a decision to fight “tyranny” [which is all too often defined as “politicians with which I don’t agree”] in front of life itself is simply Neanderthal thinking. It is time that society stands up and rejects that backward, lazy, fatalist thinking. We HAVE evolved.
And not to repeat myself but…The band played on.
McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.
You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.