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Tot Thought Gun Was Wii Controller

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Her tragic death could have been prevented!

Gun, wii controller

A 3-year-old girl picked up her stepfather's .380 caliber pistol and shot herself in the stomach Sunday night. Her mom says the girl thought the loaded gun was a Wii controller.

The stepfather told deputies he got out the gun because he heard a prowler, then left it on a living-room end table.

More than 500 children die annually from accidental gunshots. Some shoot themselves, while others kill friends or siblings after discovering a gun.

Here are more scary stats: Americans own 200 million firearms, and 35 percent of homes contain at least one gun. Last year, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 1.7 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked guns.

And if you do own a gun and think your kid won't get to it, listen to this: A recent study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that 39 percent of kids knew where their parents' guns were stored, while 22 percent said they had handled the weapons despite adult warnings to stay away. What's more, age was not a factor in whether children had played with the guns: Five-year-olds were just as likely to report doing so as 14-year-olds.

Here are just a few heartbreaking cases:

• Four-year-old Dylan Jackson shot himself to death after finding a loaded gun at a friend's home during a birthday party.

• A 3-year-old Southeast Washington boy shot himself in the foot and grazed his hand while playing with his father's gun -- which he found lying on the floor.

• A 2-year-old Tampa boy shot himself in the chest with a loaded 9mm he found in his parent's couch while playing.

• A 13-year-old boy shot himself with a semi-automatic handgun in the home of his guardian, a Maryland police officer.

• The 10-year-old son of a New York City police officer died after shooting himself in the face with his father's loaded revolver. The boy found the weapon on a shelf in the basement while looking for a ball his mom had hidden.

Is there a way to stop these senseless deaths?

The NRA (National Rifle Association) sponsors classes that teach children to leave the area and inform an adult if they find a gun, but studies show that kids who take these classes are no less likely to play with guns than kids who don't attend class.

"The biggest mistake parents make is assuming their child doesn't know where the gun in the house is," says Matthew Miller, associate director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. "Kids are smart, and if they know there's a firearm in the house, they'll probably figure out a way to get to it.

"We can't expect children to act like adults," he adds. "Parents monitor their kid's diet, curfew, and social life, but when it comes to guns, parents often just say, 'Respect the gun, it's off-limits,' or 'Guns are dangerous.' That type of parenting just doesn't work."

So should parents not tell kids if there's a gun in the home? "First, you have to weigh whether or not you really need a weapon," says Miller. "Do the benefits outweigh the risks? If the answer is yes, you must take safety precautions.

"Be honest with your children," he continues. "Tell them there is a firearm in the home but explicitly explain that guns are fatal, no matter how children handle them. Don't keep the gun loaded, and store the ammunition in a locked safe -- and carry the key with you at all times. Also, don't hide the combination, and don't give it an obvious numerical password.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians ask parents about guns in their home in an effort called 'Anticipatory Guidance,' which attempts to keep children safe in cars, on bikes and around swimming pools," says Miller. "It's rare that doctors initiate this conversation, but they should.

"Also, ask the parents of your children's friends if they keep guns at home -- and if kids will be playing where they're stored," adds Miller. "Don't worry about appearing intrusive. It's better to seem pushy and be safe."

Do you think parents should keep guns in their home with children present?

next: War on Soft Drinks Bubbles out of Schools
16 comments so far | Post a comment now
chris March 9, 2010, 5:02 AM

I personally would not keep a gun in my home but I believe that each family has a right to make that decision themselves. It is always sad to hear about a young child life taken so early by an accident that could have been avoided.

Wendi March 9, 2010, 7:19 AM

I do not like guns and had never had one in my house, until recently. My husband wanted one, he is an ex-marine and likes to go shooting and wanted it for protection. With that said, our littlest does not even know we have it. It is up in the closet, locked and totally out of reach. Bullets are in a seperate place. I can not imagine how someone can leave a gun out with a child in the house, it would be something new and interesting for them to play with. Temptation would get the best of them.

Becky March 9, 2010, 7:30 AM

The problem isn’t having a gun in the house - the problem is PROPER STORAGE of that gun. NEVER leave it loaded, ALWAYS keep the bullets at a polar end of the house, ALWAYS keep the safety on, keep the gun OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN, (high places, in a safe, with a complicated lock.) Those who feel they should keep a loaded gun thinking it’s “safer” in case of a burglar are fooling themselves. They pose a greater danger to themselves and their families by not following gun protocol. This is gun safety 101 if you have kids or not. Those whose children get themselves shot have no one to blame but themselves for not properly taking care of a dangerous weapon they chose to have around their children. Own a gun? Know how to take care of it.

Rachel March 9, 2010, 7:42 AM

Its all about the parent monitoring the child, teaching them that Guns hurt. I can’t just put in child saftey sockets in my house and expect my daughter to never touch the electrical socket when we’re out and they don’t have them. Just like you can’t lock away guns and expect them to never touch or investigate it when they’re unprotected.
I grew up in a family that hunted regularly…my dad had guns all over the house. I knew better then to ever touch them. And for that matter, they were NEVER loaded.
You want to talk about gun safety issues? TALK TO THE PARENT.
I’m not putting blame on anyone. But this baby girl could have been saved not by him putting the gun back but knowning better then to ever leave a loaded gun in the house when the threat is over.

michelle March 9, 2010, 8:26 AM

The decision to have a gun in the house never seems to include an evidence-based assessment of the risks versus the benefits. It is all irrational stuff like “The criminals are out to get us” or “I know my kids won’t touch it.” Why would anyone take the risk?? It is extremely unlikely that it will *ever* be needed for self defense. It is far more likely that there will be an accident involving a child, or that the gun will be used for domestic violence. So why have one? What is the benefit? Why are some people so careful about stuff like BPA in plastics, but a gun is just fine? Just because you have the right to keep one in the house doesn’t mean it makes ANY sense to do so.

Adam March 9, 2010, 9:58 AM

I myself am a gun owner and I have a 3 year old daughter. She is aware that my shotgun is in the house it is also under lock and key and the ammunition is kept separately. I don’t it for protection it is a tool and a form of recreation (not a toy) I am a hunter. If people didn’t keep a loaded pistol under their pillow or in the drawer next to their bed there would be substantially less of an issue. I grew up in a household with guns in it and I knew where they where kept and where the ammunition was kept but i was taught at a very young age that they are not toys and are to be treated with respect and used responsibly and i intend to teach my daughter the same.

tennmom March 9, 2010, 2:22 PM

We have 3 handguns and they are loaded. My kids are 10 and 12. They know to never open my bedside table, my husband’s bedside table or his top dresser drawer.
When they were little, I did keep our guns out of their reach.
It would be of little good to me to have to unlock a gun & load it if someone broke into my home.
When other children are in my home, they are of the same age as my children but I still keep my door locked for the most part. They all know to stay out of my room, too.

meme March 9, 2010, 2:33 PM

or don’t bring children up in a place where you need the ability to kill another person at will, however I don’t think most people covered in this story with a gun actually lives on one of those places, in fact very probably far from it.

they have them because they like them, and what they like kills people, don’t be surprised when that happens, grow a brain people!

jerkson March 9, 2010, 2:35 PM

This is a case for not allowing your children to play with video games.

auto380 March 9, 2010, 2:42 PM

In 2005, there were 3,582 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States. How about we hear a story on how many pool there are in the United States with out fence?

Besides what kind of moron leaves a gun on the table in reach of a child?

9mm March 9, 2010, 2:48 PM

In 2005, there were 3,582 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States, averaging ten deaths per day. Statistically pools are more dangerous then guns.

We have taught both our kids what handguns look like and what to do if they see one.

What moron leaves a gun, much less a loaded one, on the table in reach of a child anyway?

michelle March 9, 2010, 9:01 PM

tennmom, OMG, loaded guns in a bedside table?? And you’re all smug about this, like it’s a good thing? The reason children are children is because they don’t yet have full adult capacity for reasoning and decision-making. There could come a day when your kids or their friends do decide to open that drawer. Given this, what possible justification do you have for keeping a loaded gun within reach? Do you know how unlikely it is that some stranger is actually going to break into your home? We live in the middle of freaking NYC and even here it’s very unlikely. What could possibly be more important than keeping your kids safe?? OMG. I just totally do not understand red states and their love for guns.

Chrissy March 10, 2010, 5:56 PM

Am I the only one who thinks the stepfather’s story is full of crap?

Nick April 13, 2010, 3:33 PM

Wow, this is some serious natural selection at work.

Glen Kolb July 25, 2010, 10:26 PM

@Kristen -You make a great point

.22,.38,.357,.40,.45,30-06,12ga,10ga August 23, 2010, 10:00 AM

If someone does not want to own a gun, I respect that. I will not try to make them buy a gun. In my house children do not have access to guns unless they know how to crack safes. I don’t know of any children that can crack safes. If I hear of one, I’ll upgrade to a better safe. While it is a tragedy every time a child is injured or killed by a gun is it any less tragic when they drown in a pool or get run over by a drunk? If the answer is to outlaw things that are dangerous to children, the following items must be outlawed: all alcoholic beverages and tobacco based products, McDonald’s, drain cleaner, rat poison, string, plastic bags, shaving razors, knives, forks, pencils, pens, electricity, water, cars, bicycles, pogo sticks, hammers, saws, drills, vacuum cleaners, marbles, magnets, pillows, guitars, fireplaces, stoves, refrigerators, washers, dryers, motorcycles, go-carts, 4-wheelers, 3-wheelers, tire swings, tree houses, hornet nests, large dogs, small dogs, cats, E! programming, swimming in rivers, swimming in lakes, swimming in pools, swimming in the ocean, boats, baseballs, baseball bats, tennis rackets, soup (if the kid is narcoleptic), markers, crayons, scissors, paint brushes, shower curtains, coolers, wired xbox/playstation controllers, wii motes, other children, square tables (they hit their heads on the corners), baths…
Life is dangerous, the problem is not that people own guns, it is that people do not pay enough attention to their kids. The safety of children is the responsibility of the parents.

Governments don’t like armed citizens, they like unarmed subjects.

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