Our children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the U.S. are murdered with guns at a rate 13 times higher than that of other developed nations. 13 times higher, not only because we have so many handguns and assault weapons but because we care so little for our most precious resource that we refuse to enact any tough gun control legislation.
America’s gun culture is truly an American phenomenon; only in America do we love the gun more than our children. Guns are as American as apple pie and hotdogs and our gun culture is unique to America, while much of American culture has been embraced by other countries our love of the gun has not been, the love of the gun is truly American and for that we should be proud.
The love we have for our children is so twisted and deranged, that we become enraged and livid when cigarettes and alcohol are marketed to them, when toys imported from China have lead in them, but we have no qualms keeping deadly weapons filled with lead bullets in our house because that is our great American culture. Our love of the gun is greater than our love for our children.
A Pew study in 2013 reported that under half of all households (40%) have a gun. The gun owners are older adults (50 years and older), Republican, rural, and White 46% (twice as many as Black—21%--the next highest, ethnic households.) Although for many, gun ownership is a matter of culture and upbringing, for others it is fear.
Although older adults might be the owners of guns, and have guns in their household, the victims are their children--theirs and others'. Children in the U.S. get murdered with guns at a rate that is 13 times higher than that of other developed nations. For our young people aged 15 to 24, the rate is 43 times higher.
According to the Children’s Defense Fund, one-third of all households with children younger than 18 have a gun, and more than 40 percent of gun-owning households with children store their guns unlocked.
The fund also reported that 22 percent of children with gun-owning parents handled guns in their homes without their parents’ knowledge.
The Children’s Defense Fund gets that statistic from a 2006 study conducted at an Alabama family practice clinic:
Of 420 parent-child dyads, 314 agreed to participate; 201 of the 314 homes contained guns. Children younger than 10 years were as likely as older children to report knowing the storage location (73% vs 79%, respectively) and to report having handled a household gun (36% vs 36%, respectively). Thirty-nine percent of parents who reported that their children did not know the storage location of household guns and 22% of parents who reported that their children had never handled a household gun were contradicted by their children’s reports. Such discordance between parent and child reports was unrelated to whether parents stored their firearms locked away or had ever discussed firearm safety with their children.
Many parents who were living in homes with firearms and who reported that their children had never handled firearms in their homes were contradicted by their children’s self-reports. Parents who locked their guns away and discussed gun safety with their children were as likely to be contradicted as parents who did not take such safety measures.
I realize that it’s a stretch to apply that exact stat to the general gun-owning population, but until better data is available, we cannot ignore this finding, which not only means your own guns might not be safe from your kids, but even non-gun-owner’s kids aren’t safe when they’re at someone else’s house (or even near it,). Even if you do everything right, or decide not to even own a gun, your kids might already have handled guns without your knowledge.
Really what is the benefit of gun ownership other than the psychology—but not the reality—of feeling safe? In the USA the reality is that the health risk of having a gun in the home is greater than any other benefit. Gun ownership is killing our children.