At a Bel Air shooting range last Saturday, kids got a real-life lesson in how to shoot a gun. As reported by The Baltimore Sun, one area father brought his 15-year-old daughter to the gathering to give her a private lesson of sorts. “It was awesome,” the girl told the reporter about her experience shooting a gun. Another Harford County couple brought their children, 11 and 9, to the target range and encouraged each of them to fire a gun. They complied. “We want our kids to have a healthy respect for weapons and firearms,” the children’s mother said.
I am not making this up. The shooting range event, part of a national effort to thwart pending gun control laws, was covered by Baltimore Sun reporter Ian Duncan in the Saturday, January 19, 2013 edition of the paper. I suppose those parents who attended the event are prepping their children to become gun owners who can aim well and—purportedly—protect themselves. But extensive research on gun ownership shows that guns kept in individuals’ homes actually increase the risk of harm to occupants.
So established are the risks of keeping a gun in one’s home that the American Academy of Pediatrics, in 2000, issued a statement urging parents to remove all guns from their homes. In 2011, Harvard University School of Public Health researcher David Hemenway published a review of studies to date on the impact of gun ownership by U.S. residents. Some of the conclusions garnered by his review include the following:
- Children in the U.S. get murdered with guns at a rate 13 times higher than those of other developed countries.
- Guns are rarely used in self-defense: in only approximately one percent of home invasions and 0.1 percent in sexual assaults do homeowners use a gun in self-defense.
- Having a gun at home is far more likely to be used in violence, an accident, or a suicide attempt than in self-defense.
I hope somehow this scientific evidence finds its way to the mother who attended last week’s local gun event. Perhaps seeing the sobering facts on gun ownership would better inform how she teaches her children to develop a healthy respect for weapons than the partisan rhetoric she’s undoubtedly heard one too many times, including tired phrases like: “Guns don’t kill people, people do”.
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