By Rick Ector
Detroit, Michigan – -(Ammoland.com)- Another heart-wrenching tragedy was recently recounted in the Detroit media on this past Christmas Day. Specifically, a local 16 year-old teen was reportedly shot and killed by a 19 year-old friend in an incident consistently characterized as an apparent “accident.”
Local law enforcement is currently investigating the incident and will likely attempt to determine the identity of the handgun’s owner via the state’s Handgun Registry. Additionally, a Detroit Police Department (DPD) officer was quoted as saying that the firearm was brought into the home by a friend of the victim and that the gun did not belong to the victim.
Was The Shooting A True Accident?
As a professional Firearms Instructor, I do not readily classify shootings as accidents. In most cases, they are either intentional or negligent. All indications from published media accounts about the shooting suggest that the shooter did not intend to shoot and kill his friend. A truly accidental shooting occurs when a firearm unexpectedly discharges because of a mechanical defect or flaw while it is being safely handled. Most modern handguns will only discharge when they are loaded, chambered, and the trigger is pulled.
Reportedly, the shooter was demonstrating to his now deceased friend how he had recently used a firearm to approach and rob a woman a few days earlier. If the aforementioned characterization is true, then you can’t ignore the very real possibility that some young people are making extremely poor decisions about who they claim as friends and about what activities are to be deemed as harmless fun. Armed horseplay is all fun and games until someone gets shot and killed.
Thusly, the only other way to classify this shooting – in my view – is to label it as negligent. Negligence is the failure to exercise due caution and care when handling a firearm that results in the unintended injury or death of self or another person or the unintended damage or destruction of personal property. Strict adherence to fundamental firearm safety rules each and every time a gun is around is the only way to ensure that a firearm will not unexpectedly discharge. For the record, pointing a firearm – loaded or not – at a friend and pulling the trigger are both egregious violations.
How Can We Stop Teens From Playing With Guns?
The first lesson one can glean from this story is that parents should be cognizant of the types of kids our children spend time with on a regular basis. In addition, some info about their parents could also yield pertinent info. This story made me recall that when I was a kid, my Mom knew all of my friends and had at least a clue or two about the character of the parents of my friends.
I am not in any way suggesting that a gun in the hands of any nineteen year-old is automatically a bad scenario by default but I do believe that no good parent wants his kid spending time socially with an alleged armed robber. In contrast, I know quite a few young people between the ages of 18 and 20 years of age who are responsible and lawful firearm owners. Those young people are well trained in firearm safety and do not “play” with guns. They know all too well that guns are not toys via prior training and act accordingly when handling and operating them. The ultimate point is that the character, conscientiousness, and training of a person while possessing a firearm is of paramount importance.
In addition, parents implicitly know that they can’t be everywhere. Inevitably, kids are not going to be under watchful and parental eyes 24 hours a day to ensure that their conduct is congruent with their upbringing. Accordingly, it is imperative that parents talk to their children on various topics to help them make good decisions when not being actively supervised. At the top of the list of topics parents should be discussing with their children is the subject of firearms.
Gun-Proofing Your Child Is The Best Solution
Parents should talk to their kids about guns, even if they do not like firearms. If parents do not have any accurate and pertinent info about the topic, they should find someone who does and have them train and educate their children. If parents fail to have this conversation, parents are allowing multiple sources of potentially bad info to form the basis of their child’s knowledge by default.
Bad info about firearms is everywhere: cartoons, video games, ignorant politicians on the news, music videos, feature films, and etc. To further compound the subject, parents would be wise to only trust programming provided by organizations with a long-standing history and tradition of providing accurate info on gun safety. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one such example.
The best way to safeguard children against the fascination they may have with firearms is to teach them firearm safety. Pretending that guns do not exist outside of the home and pretending that children will never come into contact them is as dangerous as leaving an unattended and unsupervised firearm on a table with untrained children and teens in the area who may be tempted to do something ill-advised. Ignorance kills.
At an absolute bare minimum, teens should be taught to not “play” with firearms. Further, if they are ever in the company of someone who is “playing” with a gun, they should be instructed to immediately leave the scene. Hopefully, caring parents will have a vested interest in protecting their children far beyond merely telling them to “Just say No.”
Parents should be pro-active and leave nothing to chance.
Young children can be taught the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) award winning Eddie Eagle Program approach to gun safety:
- Don’t Touch
- Leave The Area
- Tell A Responsible Adult
Older children can gradually be taught the fundamental rules of firearm safety commensurate with their age and emotional maturity. In addition, they can be told why guns are in the home. Parents should never make the erroneous assumption that a firearm can be safely hidden in the home without them eventually knowing about it, especially when Santa Claus has been officially ruled out as a source of presents being secretly stored around the home during the winter holiday season.
Moreover, children can be shown what guns can do when safely operated at a gun range or – by extension – any other place where a gun may be located. All parents would be best served by educating and training their kids on the subject of guns.
If you are a trained and safe handler of a firearm, please consider making a pact with your children. Inform your child that you will allow him to see your gun and learn more about it whenever he wants while under your direct and involved supervision. The operative principle is that your child’s curiosity should be sufficiently sated while under your direct involvement and participation. Removing the awe of guns from your child’s mind will pay dividends in the future when they do not develop urges to borrow them without permission to either take to school or otherwise show them off to friends over the holidays.
If you want more info on how to educate your children about guns, let’s talk. If you live in southeast Michigan, you can attend a FREE “Childsafe Seminar” being conducted by Michigan Gun Owners on Jan. 10th, 2015. If you can’t attend this session, do not fret as there will be more seminars in the future.
I can’t help but to imagine that if the kid who was slain on Christmas had been taught about guns and firearm safety, he would be still here today – alive and well.
Ignorance kills. Protect your children through education.
About The Author
Rick Ector is a National Rifle Association credentialed Firearms Trainer, who provides Michigan CCW Class training in Detroit for students at his firearms school – Rick’s Firearm Academy of Detroit.
Ector is a recognized expert in firearm safety, a gun rights keynote speaker, and has been featured extensively in the national and local media: Associated Press, NRAnews, Gun Digest, The Politics Daily, Fox News Detroit, The Detroit News, Lock-N-Load Radio, WGPR and the UrbanShooterPodcast.