A danger to children

Unsupervised guns, and some lifestyles, prove a great peril to kids

Guns aren’t toys.

But keeping them away from kids? That’s child’s play.

So why do kids continue to get shot?

Last week alone in the Augusta area, a 10-year-old Hephzibah boy was shot and killed and a 13-year-old Harlem girl was shot in the face and seriously wounded and later died, in separate incidents involving kids and guns. In both cases, another youth was handling or playing with a gun when it discharged.

Compounding these tragedies is the ease with which they could’ve been prevented. Guns absolutely must be stored safely, and not within the reach of children. If not needed at the ready, they should be locked against firing.

And if you must have guns in the same house as children, teach them to respect and fear them – and, at the appropriate time, how to handle them. Experts and courses are at your fingertips.

One very basic instruction: Never, ever, point a gun at someone unless you intend to use it in self-defense.

“We went through this same scenario when I was mayor in 1999-2000, and knew we had to act,” former Mayor Bob Young wrote to us after the second shooting last week. “With private donations we provided for free over 5,000 gun locks with the training in how to properly use them ... Not taking all the credit, but I’m sure the locks served a purpose, because we did not have any more dead and wounded children.”

Project ChildSafe, part of the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project HomeSafe program, also offers free gun locks and educational materials. See www.kidsandguns.org.

Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said gun locks are good, but can leave you defenseless. A better strategy, he says, is simply to make your gun inaccessible to minors – and that means more than under the sofa.

In the case of the second shooting last week, the gun owner appears to have been not only negligent, but actively so: The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office says Richard Wayne Provance, 54, was charged with drug possession and manufacture, as well as possession of a gun during commission of a crime. No adults were in the home with the middle schoolers – but authorities say guns and drugs were.

As an aside – but a pretty doggone significant aside – we’ve been told by the “mainstream” media for decades now that lifestyles aren’t all that important; that we shouldn’t be “judgmental” of the choices people make; and that “it ain’t nobody’s business if I do.”

Well, guess what: We’ve been sold a lie. Lifestyles do matter: When you’ve got drugs and guns lying around your house and you exhibit the reckless use of both to young people – and then leave them alone in the house with such things – tragedies can result. If nothing else, children in such homes, and their friends, are introduced to self-destructive, self-limiting and dangerous lifestyles.

Sorry, media: Not all lifestyles are born equal.

And as for it being nobody’s business what you do: Certainly it’s a free country, but your behavior has consequences – not just for yourself, but for others. In the Harlem shooting case, a family has lost a precious young lady, and the taxpayers are picking up the tab for the criminal cases involved and for the custody of the 14-year-old young man behind the shooting, as the father, Provance, has been rightly stripped of custody.

Tragically, it’s suddenly become our business in this
case.

Still, you don’t need to be so over-the-edge negligent to be a danger to children. If you’ve got guns in any home that children either live in or visit, get those weapons secured and out of the reach of children.

It’s so simple it’s child’s play.

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