The Ultimate Evil

A Child Abuse Awareness Blog

Gun Safety: Your Children Are More Important Than Your Politics

I grew up never fearing guns in a house but being taught a healthy dose of caution about them and strangers who wield them.  Growing up in Louisiana, you know at least half of gun owners in the Deep South are criminals who will take your life if you look at them wrong.  That was back in the ’70s and ’80s, before gun violence really accelerated.

My grandfather was in the Army and fought in WWI. My father was in the Navy for WWII and Korea. I was raised with my grandfather’s old guns (one a bayonet) and my father’s .22, .45, and a double barrel shotgun.

My dad never killed anything with those guns, though he was a hunter with his dad when he was younger, but he knew how to use them if it was necessary. He took me to the firing range several times as a kid and taught me gun safety – the excellent marksmanship came naturally – but I was NEVER permitted to handle those guns outside of the range.  They were kept somewhere in my dad’s room that I was not allowed to know about, and even if I did, we were raised that the parents’ room was strictly off-limits and we damned sure never broke that rule. This was before the age of the liberal parent.

My daughter is allowed anywhere in my home, but I don’t have loaded weapons laying around, either.  I have swords and knives, daggers, sais, and katanas, but my daughter understands boundaries regarding those things. She is not permitted to play with realistic looking weapons and knows the dangers of them.  I speak openly to her about why she is never to touch my weapons.  She understands they are sharp, dangerous, for only for me for defending her and myself if the time ever comes.  She has seen what they can do and it has been explained why it is wrong to treat any weapon like a toy.

She has been taught killing and even hurting a person should always be a last resort because it is something you will live with for the rest of your life.  It isn’t something any child should have to live with.  I’d do it to protect her because that is my burden I signed on for when I chose to become a parent. The best way to keep a child safe from this is to be boldly honest with them about consequences and responsibilities. She knows hurting someone to escape a bad situation is completely acceptable, but again, such a thing isn’t to be treated as a joke or a game.

The mindset must be there in dealing with self-defense and weaponry of any kind, yet I have found it sorely lacking in many people I know who have guns and children.  Their mindset is to treat guns like paperweights, decoration, and fun for the whole family, thus desensitizing children to the very real danger.

My daughter had a friend in the neighborhood whose father was a Marine.  Their entire garage was his armory and was never locked.  Their children often played in the room without parental supervision because there was a pool table in there.

I don’t use the term “armory” in merely a figurative fashion. All four walls (the garage door was sealed shut and used as a wall) were adorned with probably every type of firearm you can imagine.  Bullets were kept near each appropriate gun.  There were two footlockers filled with hand-to-hand combat weapons, a table covered in guns he was modifying, and in order for their girls (7 and 4) to play pool, they always had to remove guns he would take apart and put together for timing games with his friends. Every single weapon in this room was in working order and ready to be used at a moments notice.

As soon as I found out, my daughter was never allowed to return to their home again, and I promptly called his command with what I had found.  They were appalled at the photos I took with my phone of the girls moving these weapons around and of the careless, dangerous way his collection was being kept.  I’m not sure what happened to him, but I never heard from them after my report.  They moved shortly after.  I don’t care who someone is.  If they are putting children’s lives in danger, I will do something about it.  Especially if one of those children is mine.

Guns don’t frighten me.  I’ve shot many military-grade weapons as well as civilian.  I, actually, enjoy shooting and I love weapons – all kinds. There is a time and a place for such things, however, and around children is not one of them.

The reason I’m saying all of this is because I have heard too much opposition over any form of gun control, including mandatory safety classes prior to first-time gun ownership.  I’m about 80% Conservative and side with most 2nd Amendment issues.  However, too many of these otherwise intelligent people become so fixated on their rights and political debates that they completely disregard any form of responsibility when it comes to gun ownership, the worst being parental responsibility.

If you have children in your home, their safety comes first, guns dead last.  Use a lock box, learn safety procedures, research statistics of child deaths associated with household guns if that’s what you need to understand this is a serious truth, understand the psychology of the different ages of children in your home – a 10 year old will greater understand gun safety than a 3 year old, so don’t treat them the same and believe a gun in each of their presence is no big deal.

You are an adult, they are a child.  Your point of views are different.  Your comprehension skills are different.  Your understanding of consequences are different.  Even your understanding of death is different.  You cannot expect a child to be on the same mental level as you when it comes to handling or being around guns.  Teaching them safety and proper use for their own knowledge and empowerment to ensure that safety are great, but that still doesn’t make it okay to drop your guard and allow them access to your weapons.

You can be angry at the liberal media all you want for airing incidents involving gun violence and children, but that anger does not make the horrific true events go away. I do believe the anti-gun crowd uses such stories to encourage their agenda, but they wouldn’t have so many cases to use for conjecture if more gun owners took gun ownership more seriously on the side of safety rather than screaming about amendment rights.  Quite simply, it isn’t about you.  It’s about your child.

Toddler Dies After Mistaking Gun for Wii Controller
Three-Year-Old Girl Fatally Shoots Herself After Confusing Real Gun and Video Game Controller

By KI MAE HEUSSNER
March 10, 2010

Mistaking a loaded gun for a video game controller, a 3-year-old in Tennessee accidentally shot and killed herself, officials said.
Tennessee toddler accidently shoots herself in the chest with a handgun.

Cheyenne Alexis McKeehan of Norene, Tenn., shot herself Sunday night after her stepfather left his loaded Smith & Wesson handgun out on a table, Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe said.

Cheyenne’s mother told police officers that the child was used to playing a shooting game with the Nintendo Wii video game console and likely confused the real gun with the realistic-looking black toy gun, the sheriff said.

“The unfortunate thing is that this Nintendo game called Wii had what looks like a solid black, basically automatic-looking type mechanism that operates the game,” he said. “Unfortunately, the stepdad also had a .380 caliber black Smith & Wesson. The child was used to playing the video game.”

Cheyenne’s stepfather, Douglas Cronberger, 32, owned a semi-automatic pistol that he normally kept in a secure location, out of the reach of Cheyenne and the couple’s 1-year-old child, Ashe said. But after taking it out to investigate a possible prowler, Cronberger left it on a table and forgot about it, officials said.

When Cheyenne fired the gun, Ashe said, her mother, Tina Ann Cronberger, 32, was within three feet of her child. Cheyenne was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.

“We’re not looking at criminal intent,” Ashe said, adding that no criminal charges have been filed. “There was a terrible lapse of judgment here.”

He said that in his years in law enforcement, this wasn’t the first tragedy he’d seen involving children and guns, but Cheyenne was the youngest victim he had seen.

“If you’re a gun owner, you have to be responsible about how you store your weapon, especially if you have children,” Ashe said. But he added that he hopes this incident causes others to be more careful with firearms in the home.

“I believe that something positive will come out of this — that another family won’t go through the heartbreak of this family,” he said.

Ashe did not know the specific Wii game the child played or the manufacturer of the video game controller. Nintendo did not immediately provide a comment to ABCNews.com.

Michael Fahey, a reporter for the video game blog Kotaku, said lifelike gun controllers, like the one found by police at the Cronberger home, are very rare.

“It’s not one that’s generally on sale,” he said. “You can’t generally find it on sale in the U.S. because no one wants to sell a realistic-looking gun controller to children.”

After searching online, Fahey said he came across a video game controller that he thinks could be the same one owned by the Cronbergers.

Manufactured by the HAIHONGCHANG Electronics Company in China, the WiiAuto Pistol, he said, is available for sale on various Web sites, such as eBay. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABCNews.com.

Fahey said he wasn’t even aware of the video game controller until Tuesday.

“It surprised me, really, to see a gun that realistic being used for [the Wii],” he said.

Most toy guns marketed for kids’ video games in the United States are brightly-colored or white, to distinguish them from real guns. But he said he didn’t think there was a way for Nintendo to regulate what overseas third-party manufacturers create for the Wii console. Nintendo might not have even known the realistic-looking gun existed, he said.

He also said he doubted there were many shooting video games meant for young children. Those that do target kids, such as Nerf N-Strike, try to design toy guns that don’t resemble the real thing.

Gun-control advocates say it’s one more reminder of the dangers of guns in the home.

“The fact that there are things like this Wii toy that look like guns, make it all the more important for the adults to keep the guns away from the children,” said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Keep it locked up, keep it secure, or don’t have it at all.”

Though not all gun accidents end as tragically as Cheyenne’s, he said this kind of incident happens “all too often.” In the United States, he said, a gun in the home is 21 times more likely to injure a family member than protect the home from intruders.

“It shows once again that guns are not toys,” he said. “Guns should not be left around where a child could get to them.”

March 10, 2010 - Posted by | Other Safety issues

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