Think of the Children?

AB 167 The current convention of the Nevada Assembled Wisdom seems to have Guns on the Brain – now it’s a couple in Las Vegas who want to pistol-pack while fostering children.  AB 167, sponsored by our own Baking Soda Solution Pistol Packing Mama (Assemblywoman Fiore, R-NRA), would allow such behavior.

This is wrong on several levels.  First Floorchildren and guns are not a good combination. A nationwide review of statistics suggest that we are seriously under-counting the number of gun fatalities involving children. [NYT]  More specifically,

“In 2007, there were 122 unintentional firearm deaths in children, and an additional 3,060 nonfatal gun and shooting accidents, which resulted in an estimated 1,375 children needing to be hospitalized for their injuries. Unintentional firearm deaths in children have remained at about the same levels since, with 114 deaths in children and teens less than age 18 in 2010.” [Ped]

NRA arguments that swimming pools, poisoning, and falls may also be deadly is fallacious.  Yes, these do present dangers to infants and children.  However, that argument is distractive and beside the point – we have made significant efforts to prevent poisoning (think about the caps you can barely remove from the top of the container); we have made great strides with child safety seats; and, we’ve enacted regulations about pool safety measures in local communities.  We also know that “unintentional injury” is the leading cause of death for youngsters aged 1 to 14. [CDC pdf]  (*See also: Comedy Central Daily Show’s takedown of a Florida law preventing pediatricians from discussing guns with clients.)

Too many of these “unintentional injuries” are related to firearms:

“The United States accounts for nearly 75 percent of all children murdered in the developed world. Children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the United States are 17 times more likely to be murdered by firearms than children in other industrialized nations.

Children from states where firearms are prevalent suffer from significantly higher rates of homicide, even after accounting for poverty, education, and urbanization. A study focusing on youth in North Carolina found that most of these deaths were caused by legally purchased handguns. A recent meta-analysis revealed that easy access to firearms doubled the risk of homicide and tripled the risk for suicide among all household members. Family violence is also much more likely to be lethal in homes where a firearm is present, placing children especially in danger. Murder-suicides are another major risk to children and are most likely to be committed with a gun.” [Slate]

Second FloorNevada lacks gun storage laws which assist in the prevention of incidental access to guns by children, and which encourage gun owners to safely store their firearms. [DB 10/23/13]  IF Nevada had safe storage requirements, and IF Nevada reformed its laws on liability of parents who allow access to firearms by children, or who don’t take common sense measures to restrict such access – then we might re-visit this topic.

Third FloorThere are structural differences with foster children in family dynamics.   By definition, a foster placement is temporary.  The contention that “my child would NEVER mishandle my gun,” doesn’t necessarily apply to a youngster who (1) has not been raised in the family since birth, and (2) may or may not have come from a family in which gun safety was a priority, and (3) may or may not have enough familiarity with firearms to overcome parental attempts at restraint.  If the answer to any of these issues is “I don’t know,” then the obvious answer is not to place a foster child in a situation in which firearms and ammunition are present.

Perhaps it’s time for some people to decide – which is more important, having a gun, or having a foster child?

1 Comment

Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

One response to “Think of the Children?

  1. I think you underestimate the problems — and your points are bad enough. But they assume a moderately effective foster system. A look at how it operates in many locations makes the question of guns in foster homes much scarier — and, to be honest, the greatest danger is probably to the foster parents.

    Children, particularly older children, who get placed in foster care are frequently ‘troubled’ to begin with — that may be what caused the placement. Others have had abusive or neglectful parents. In both cases they start out as people I don’t want near guns.

    But even the best kids in the system can be destroyed by it. Foster parents who are ‘only in it for the money,’ abusive parents, even parents that are favored by the system because they are ‘good Church-going folk’ — but who turn out to be religious tyrants, can sour and destroy the best of kids.

    And there’s always the potential instability as assignments are canceled — with neither cause from the child or concern for him. And the interactions between other children, either the parents’ own or other fosters.

    Now many fosters DO work out, but the potential for an explosively unstable situation is always there, the agencies, even the best of them, are understaffed and can’t see danger developing.

    Add guns to that and…