There have been 146 days this year, New Year’s Day to Memorial Day. And in that time there have been at least 295 children and teens killed by gun violence in this country. Two a day…every day. And when we look at gun violence, whether it is gang violence, domestic violence or someone just having a really bad day with a gun, the very worst comes when we look at children killed by gun accidents in the home. Guns that should have been properly stowed, guns that have no place in the hands of children.
This Memorial Day weekend, in the small town of Tucker in far eastern Oklahoma, between Tulsa and Fort Smith a young girl was killed in her home. Everything known suggests that she died due to a horrible accident. One that involved a gun.
Her name was Saylor Slone Martine and she was 15.
LeFlore County Sheriff Rob Seale said Saylor Slone Martine and her 12-year-old sister were handling a Ruger 380LCP, 380-caliber semi-automatic handgun when one of the girls placed the gun on a counter. It went off. The hows and the whys that happened are still being investigated but it is thought that the two girls had their mother’s gun which had the magazine taken out as a safety precaution. What many unfamiliar with semi-automatic handguns don’t realize is that, even with the magazine out the gun can be fired if a round had been chambered. So a simple act of pulling the trigger on a gun that is “thought” to be unloaded will, in reality fire that last round already loaded. And that is all it takes. All it takes to change the lives of everyone involved.
What can we learn from this senseless death?
First, handguns are the responsibility of adults, should not be out, should not be lying around, and should not be played with by the kids.
Second, guns in the home should be properly stowed so that only the adults can retrieve them, keeping them from playing hands, keeping them from the untrained, keeping them from criminals that might take an opportunity to steal a gun.
And third, all too often the comments from the local sheriff or police are that “the parent stepped out of the room for just a minute.” People in this country have a right to own firearms, a right to protect themselves and their family. But with that right comes responsibility. And part of that responsibility is always knowing where your gun is, its firing condition and who could be around it. Not “most” of the time or away for “just a minute”…all the time.
Only then will we be able to reduce the number of children killed by that “tragic accident” that occurred because someone was not paying attention. It is hard, it is harsh but it is a rule that must be followed all the time. Be responsible for your gun. Too many children pay the price of gun owners who fail to follow that simple rule.
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.