A lot of attention has rightfully been paid to an alarming cell phone video of an Indiana toddler, filmed by her parents as she plays with what appears to be a .40-caliber handgun.
Both parents can be heard encouraging the one-year-old to say "Pow!" and "Bang!" as she points the gun and then puts the muzzle in her mouth. Police officers said the gun’s magazine had apparently been removed, but a round could have been in the chamber.
The parents have been arrested and charged with neglect, criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, and allowing a child to possess a firearm. The child and a sibling have been placed in protective custody.
Not the Only Example
The cell phone video illustrates a cavalier and irresponsible attitude towards guns and parenting, and it is not the only recent example to make headlines.
An Alabama gun range, the Montgomery Indoor Shooting Complex, stirred controversy by posting a Facebook photo of a baby on a blanket, clutching a handgun while surrounded by long guns. The photo went viral in early January.
Lilly Ann Gibbs of the Montgomery Indoor Shooting Complex tried to justify posting the Facebook photo as an attempt to stimulate dialogue on gun safety.
“In the Journal of Pediatrics, they estimate that 10,000 children are harmed by firearms a year. And so we at Montgomery Indoor Shooting Complex are participating with the National Shooting Sports Foundation in a child safe program,” stated Gibbs.
One Question That Can Save a Child’s Life
Most parents who bring guns into their home have more sense than to shoot images of their kids holding deadly weapons. However, what many responsible, gun-owning parents don’t realize is that bringing a gun into the home increases the risks of suicide, unintentional shootings, and homicide. One out of three homes with children in this country has guns, many left unlocked or loaded. Each day, seven kids are killed by guns in this country.
We can prevent many of these tragedies by helping families understand the risks of guns in the home and make safer choices about gun access and storage.
The Indiana video and the Alabama Facebook photo should serve as reminders to all parents to keep guns locked away securely. They are also reminders for parents to raise concerns and awareness about the dangers of unsafe access to firearms with friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues.
We can all help ensure that children do not come across an unsecured gun by asking one question that could save a child’s life: “Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?”
Easy access to guns can lead to tragic consequences for children. Our collective efforts with parents across the United States can help prevent future tragedies.
Pledge to ask in your community, and encourage your family and friends to ask, too.