Mommyshame

STFU Parents: Parents Who Fetishize Guns and ‘Safety’ on Facebook, Part II

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Here’s a question a lot of Americans have been pondering over the last several years: When does a person’s right to live freely outweigh another person’s right to own and fire a gun? An even better question might be: When does a toddler’s right to grow up without the burden of accidentally injuring or killing another person, or oneself, outweigh a parent’s right to inflict a merciless gun culture onto their child? Putting aside the horrors of mass murder committed by despicable individuals, and putting aside the heinous crimes committed by militant police forces (the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are two of over 500 people killed by cops as of July 2016), there is an ever-growing danger of the ways guns are mishandled in American homes (and cars), and children are by far the biggest losers in the gamble.

Back in October, just five days after my last column on guns in this space, the Washington Post published an article titled ‘People are getting shot by toddlers on a weekly basis this year’ whose author reported that “at least 43 instances of someday being shot by a toddler 3 or younger. In 31 of those 43 cases, a toddler found a gun and shot himself or herself.” This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to those of us who live in the U.S.; after all, with social media and the internet, we now hear about all of those small, unreported or locally reported incidents that might have otherwise gone unnoticed on a national scale before we had breaking news at our fingertips. But now that we do, we’re aware when a toddler plays a role in her mother’s accidental gun death, or her brother or sister’s death, or their own death. We read the headlines on Facebook that link to stories about a ‘pro-gun Florida mom’ who was ‘accidentally shot by her son after leaving a loaded weapon in car’ and who’s known for ‘bragging about how her child ‘gets jacked up’ for target practice.’ Just searching the words “toddler shoots” leads to this Google autofill, which has nearly a million related articles:

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 Gun rights activists claim that enforcing restrictions and creating tighter gun laws won’t help resolve or assuage these dire and habitual hazards. (As of May, toddlers had shot at least 23 people in the U.S.) For instance, only 18 states have child-access prevention laws, meaning that in other states, a parent may not have any legal responsibility to keep a gun locked up and out of children’s hands. This was a point of concern in an article that just ran on America’s Independence Day — a day revered by gun-happy patriots — in the Kansas City Star, which reported that ‘at least six Kansas City toddlers have found a gun and wounded or killed someone since 2013’ and noting that ‘Kansas saw at least one fatal toddler shooting in 2015 — a year in which more Americans were killed by toddlers than by Islamic terrorists.’ The irony of this story is that by the day’s end, a new story out of Kansas City was running with the lede “A fun night of fireworks ended after a teenager was hit by celebratory gunfire,” which mentioned that “KCPD said they are frustrated, especially since they said they spent two days last week going door-to-door, speaking with families about the dangers of celebratory gunfire.” It’s pretty hard to imagine gun control NOT having a positive impact when even the most patriotic, Second Amendment gun lovers among us are apparently incapable of following police orders after they’ve been delivered in person, straight to their front door.

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