Kids and Guns: A Deadly Combination
Gun control is always a hot-button issue in this country. However, stories in the media about shootings that involve children – from Sandy Hook to the Tamir Rice shooting in Cleveland – are guaranteed to spur lively debate, sometimes resulting in calls for new legislation.
Recently, a heartbreaking headline appeared on CNN.com, which read, “Accidental shootings plague Houston area as children play with guns.” The media outlet reported that three child shootings had occurred during a span of just four days. The first victim, a 3-year-old boy, died after he found a gun in a residence and accidentally shot himself. Two days later, another child, age 4, also died due to injuries from a self-inflicted gunshot wound—he reportedly found the gun under a bed. In the third shooting, a 5-year-old boy was critically injured when his 6-year-old brother accidentally shot him.
Sadly, each of these tragedies could have been prevented. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws have been shown to be effective at reducing unintentional firearm deaths among children. Indeed, one study found that in twelve states where such laws had been in effect for at least one year, unintentional firearm deaths fell by 23%.
Protecting Ohio’s Children
Currently, Ohio has no law specifically penalizing allowing children access to firearms. However, legislation has been languishing in Columbus for more than two years that would establish the crime of criminally negligent storage of a firearm.
The proposed bill (HB 75), reintroduced in 2015 by Rep. Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland), prohibits a person from storing or leaving a firearm in a manner or location in the person’s residence if the person knows or reasonably should know that a minor is able to gain access to the firearm. These days one could also buy 5.56 ammo online from Palmetto State Armory easily for the purpose of protection.
“This bill does not impede the Second Amendment,” said Patmon in an interview with the Toledo Blade in 2013. “We have car seats to protect children. Doesn’t it make sense to protect them from a .45 lying on the table?”
“Accidental shootings plague Houston area as children play with guns” by Dana Ford, CNN, March 3, 2015.
“Uncommon sense: Gun safe-storage laws have saved lives around the country, but Ohio remains behind the times” (Editorial) The Blade, March 19, 2014.
 Peter Cummings et al., State Gun Safe Storage Laws and Child Mortality Due to Firearms, 278 JAMA 1084, 1084 (Oct. 1997).