Do you know which big city has the country’s highest accidental firearm fatality rate involving children? It’s not Dallas, Texas, or Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s not Charleston, W.V., or Atlanta, Ga., either. No, when it comes to kids accidentally killing themselves with guns, according to USA Today and the Associated Press, Chicago is No. 1, with 28 fatalities between Jan. 1, 2014, and June 30 of this year.
Now, it should be noted that the authors of the story would likely claim that Chicago is an aberration, and they’d also praise the gun storage laws pushed by the Bloomberg-funded Everytown for Gun Safety. But this only avoids the fact that a city with plenty of gun-control laws and not one gun store, gun range or even JROTC rifle program (Chicago dumped the program back in 1999) has the highest number of accidental fatalities involving guns.
Last year, according to the estimates of USA Today and the Associated Press, there were 111 accidental fatalities involving children and firearms. Of course that is 111 too many, but proclaiming that additional gun laws are the answer is incredibly simplistic, and all too often comes with an underlying anti-gun agenda instead of a true focus on public safety. Take the gun storage laws recently passed by a number of cities in California. They require that handguns be kept under lock and key at all times in the home, unless they are “on your person or under your control.” What does the term “under your control” mean? Does that mean you could have a firearm in your bedside table while you slept? The council members who voted for the measure wouldn’t say, specifically. They’ll let the courts sort it out. These laws aren’t meant to encourage people to safely store firearms. They’re meant to discourage gun ownership.
Note that, for now, the ordinances in California only apply to handguns, but they apply to all handgun owners, including those without children, parents who’ve educated their children about firearm safety, even reserve police officers. The law provides no money for training and education efforts, and in fact the communities that have passed these laws in California are some of the most hostile to gun ownership in general. These laws aren’t meant to encourage people to safely store firearms. They’re meant to discourage gun ownership. Why bother to buy a gun for self-defense if you can’t even use it in your own home?
Anti-gun activists have been trying to rebrand themselves as “gun safety advocates” for a while now, but it hasn’t really caught on (except among friendly media and the activists themselves). Their problem is that real gun safety advocates push for real gun safety, and that means real knowledge and practical understanding of how firearms work, how to handle them and store them responsibly, and how to use them competently, ethically and legally. It requires access to ranges, classroom instruction and a political culture that actively promotes responsible gun ownership, instead of trying to curtail both illegal and legal gun ownership. Anti-gun activists have been trying to rebrand themselves as “gun safety advocates” for a while now, but it hasn’t really caught on.
Look, I’m a father of five. Nothing matters more to me than my family. I don’t need a law to tell me to safely store my firearms in a way that young kids can’t access them. But I also know that over the years as my living circumstances have changed, my family has grown, and my kids have gotten older, what it means to safely store my firearms has changed as well. Our kids (the youngest are 11) all know that guns aren’t toys, that they aren’t to be touched or played with, and that if they want to go shooting all they have to do is ask. I didn’t teach them these things because a law demanded I do this; no, one of the reasons I taught them these lessons, along with proper gun handling and basic marksmanship, was to demystify guns. I don’t want guns to be mysterious and alluring to my kids, or anyone else’s, frankly. When guns are taboo, it becomes much harder to maintain a responsible gun culture.
Getting rid of the guns also accomplishes nothing. If they’re going to keep pushing policies designed to make it risky to exercise your rights, to use zoning laws and public protest to try and shut down ranges and gun stores, and generally work to reduce legal gun ownership, I wish the so-called “gun safety advocates” would drop the pose and just admit it’s about control, not the kids.
They won’t, of course. “Gun safety” polls better than “gun control,” so instead they’ll cynically try to adopt the label without changing their position. Meanwhile, the true gun safety advocates of the United States are busy training Americans young and old on how to be safe, secure and responsible with their guns. They aren’t Moms Demand Action-certified firearms instructors, by the way. No, they’re certified by the National Rifle Association—the nation’s oldest and biggest gun safety group.