by David Safier
A 5 year old boy shot his 2 year old sister with a gun given to him for his birthday. The gun was left in a corner with a bullet still in it. The family say they didn't know about the bullet.
These days, it's considered akin to child abuse to put a young child in a car without belting him/her into the proper car seat. That wasn't true 20 years ago. Even seat belts were considered optional and a bit wimply a few decades ago. Now, not wearing one is considered reckless. People used to laugh at stories people told about driving drunk. Now anyone who drives drunk is considered a dangerous fool, and we're advised to take away their keys. Designated driver? Who even heard the term a few decades ago?
Yet keeping guns in unlocked cabinets, in bedside tables, even propped up in a corner with children around is still considered OK by lots of people. "Don't worry, I always take out the bullets." "My kids know better than to play with my guns." "What, if a burglar comes in, I'm supposed to ask him to wait a minute while I get my key, unlock my gun cabinet and load the damn thing? Are you nuts?"
Changing our gun culture doesn't mean confiscating people's guns or "taking away our freedoms." It means acknowledging that these lethal weapons are involved in too many thousands of deaths, many of which would have been avoided if people treated guns with the care and concern they deserve. We need laws to help prevent gun violence, but just as much — maybe more — we need a cultural shift that makes people behave more safely and responsibly when they own or are around guns.