by Richard Rowe
Remember when the NRA used to be about gun enthusiasts, sport shooting, hunting, and above all, gun safety? If you do, you might also remember another organization based out of Southern California, reportedly first known as the “Community Resource for Independent People.” The “CRIPS,” as they’re known today, have fallen a long way from what they once were, now focused almost exclusively on profit and the brotherhood of violence, and if a few people get caught in the crossfire, then so be it. That’ll teach them to be there.
These days, the NRA exists, above all else, to sell guns. Of course, that means opposing be default any law that has to do with any gun, regardless of how much sense it might make, or the number of innocent victims it might keep out of the crossfire. Because, safety. On January 6th, Cam Edwards of the NRA “News” program Cam & Company fired a few shots at one organization that still speaks volumes on the issue of gun safety: Moms Demand Action.
Edwards’ comments came in the wake of an earlier comment by MDA president Shannon Watts as she advocated for state laws enforcing a criminal penalty for adults that leave guns unsecured and left out for the reaching hands of children. In her USA Today interview, Watts cited that only 15 states prosecute parents whose children get shot because they negligently left a firearm unsecured. Watts, as you might expect, would like to see such laws everywhere.
[box type=”shadow”]”This idea that a shooting that involves a toddler is accidental is asinine. If I was drinking and driving and hit my son, I would immediately go to jail. But if I left my firearm on the top of the refrigerator and he found it and shot himself, everyone says, what a horrible accident.”[/box]
Cam Edwards though, took issue with that. He first attacked her metaphor of a car and drunk driving, picking it apart by stating that cars and alcohol don’t have securing laws. You could say that he missed the point that acts of negligence resulting in death have consequences, if not for the fact that he more “dodged” it than “missed” it.
Further in the segment, he states that accidental firearms deaths are statistically insignificant. He cites this chart, from the CDC, stating that drowning, suffocation and car crashes are among the leading causes of accidental death for children. Gun accidents are much further down on the list, at ninth for 1 to 4 year olds, and seventh for 10 to 14 year olds, and 6th for 15 to 24 year olds. And he makes a valid point; gun deaths are far from number one.
At first glance that seems to confirm everything in Cam’s point that states don’t need to punish parents who leave guns out. And making decisions at first glance is kind of what conservatives do. But we’re not conservatives, and there’s more to this story.
1) Deaths Reported: It’s all fine and good to say that accidental gun deaths don’t even rank in the top five, and further obfuscate things by listing everything that does. But here’s the reality: The red squares in that graphic represent at least 195 dead people. That’s 200 families a year shattered by their parents’ stupidity and neglect. Even if you cut that in half to eliminate people over 18, you’re still looking at 100 dead kids. That’s THREE SANDY HOOKS A YEAR, because some idiot didn’t manage to lock up the thing that he bought to protect his kids.
Assume those numbers remained consistent from 2000 to now (which they might not have), and you’re looking at over 1,000 kids killed because, SAFETY!
2) Total Violent Deaths: Where kids are concerned, there’s a difference between an “accidental discharge,” and an “accident.” If we function on the principle that kids are too dumb or inexperienced to think things through, then we might do well to consider TOTAL violent deaths into this discussion. Total deaths includes homicides and suicides, and those things require the tool for the job. In this context, kid on kid crime might just as well be considered the responsibility of the parent who left their weapon out to be stolen.
This graph shows a very different picture from the one Cam presented in his strictly accidental chart. Now, we suddenly see gun stats leap to the top of the list in suicides and homicides. Of course, this graph doesn’t represent strictly child-on-child crime. Even so, we could probably assume that many of these figures do represent instances of kids obtaining and using weapons on other kids, particularly in the 10 to 18 ranges. And suicide is child-on-child, by definition.
3) Guns and Cars: This is one of the worst metaphors used by either side, particularly since it fails to address the core issue, and gives people like Cam many more distracting arguments. Cars and guns, or alcohol and guns, should never be compared, because cars and alcohol aren’t weapons. With the possible exception of Skol and various Toyotas, they aren’t created for the explicit purpose of ending a human life. Cars and booze can be used to do things not related to the ending of a life.
A knife CAN be used as a weapon, but a cooking utensil is not a “weapon” by DESIGN. This isn’t so much a message to Cam as it is to fellow gun control advocates: Please stop using car metaphors and arguments, as they’ll always be undermined, and they’re pointless, because there’s a better one that can be used.
4) The Second Amendment: There’s absolutely no Constitutional basis for not passing these laws to protect kids from themselves, particularly when the 15 states that have passed punitive storage laws have seen a definitive drop in child gun deaths. These laws work, and we know they do. They don’t infringe the “right to bear arms” in the slightest; after all, you’re not “bearing” an arm if said firearm is sitting on your kitchen table while you’re in the shower, and your kid is seconds away from using it to play cops and robbers.
So, tell us again, Cam, if the NRA is still about gun safety and hasn’t devolved into a gang of violent, profiteering thugs, then why wouldn’t you want laws to keep guns out of kids’ hands? Looking for new customers, are we?