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May 17, 2007

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Illinois law is pretty much in line with every other state when it comes to juvenile possession of a firearm, and most most other states lack any type of FOID requirement at all for possession of a firearm or ammunition. In just about every other state it's legal for someone under the age of 18 to go target shooting or hunting with a long gun provided they have parental permission to do so. Handguns are typically more heavily restricted and generally require direct supervision.

Yet despite this, accidental gun fatalities among children are exceedingly rare. For young children, less than 100 a year. For 15-24 year olds, less than 150. Statistically a child is far more likely to drown in the family pool than accidentally shoot himself or someone else with the family gun. Restricting FOID cards to those over 18 would be an attempt to solve a problem that's not really much of one. More lives would be saved by banning bathtubs for households with young children.

Thank you for your comment and for your information on FOID cards in other states. While your statistics on accidental deaths are correct, I don't agree with your rational. A bathtub is a vessel in which to bathe; a swimming pool a vessel in which to swim. While I do think that parents should cover pools and/or watch their children around bathtubs and pools, the purpose of both objects is not to harm. But the purpose of a gun is to shoot (to either scare, injure, or kill something).

And guns are injuring and killing people both accidentally and purposefully. I believe that's a problem (a preventable problem). The Brady Campaign published a litany of statistics about the exposure, injury, and death of children due to the use of guns. Readers can find that list here: http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/factsheets/pdf/children.pdf.

But you are right; I shouldn't have just stressed accidental firearm injury, since homicide (a majority by firearm) was the 3rd leading cause of death of 1–17 year-olds in the U.S. in 2004 (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and WISQARS, 2007). However, I don't know how many of the offenders had FOID cards, or were minors.

Well, firearms do have legitimate recreational uses, the same as a swimming pool, as well as utility in self-defense, which shouldn't be discounted. Even conservative studies on defensive firearms use put the number somewhere above 700,000/yr.

I agree that gun accidents are a preventable problem, but I prefer the solution to be through education rather than through legislation.

Sebastian, thank you for your well informed comments. I do believe that education is paramount in preventing all forms of violence. However, I also think that legislation can play its part in managing gun sales/possession without infringing on one's constitutional rights.

I look forward to your comments on future blogs!

Why does everyone suddenly have the idea that they can decide whether someones kid can own a gun? Why cant the parents decide? No mother or father is so stupid that they would let an irresponsible child own a gun. The bottom line is: MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!!!!!!!. It is not your kid!!!

Thanks for your comment. But, while the Second Amendment declares the right to bear arms, there are federal and state laws that regulate who and who cannot own a gun. Moreover, while I agree that parents can (most likely) determine their own child's level of maturity and responsibility, I am certain that an 11-month-old has no concept of personal responsibility.

Furthermore, recent studies show that the prefrontal cortex of the brain (which, in part, negotiates risk) does not finish developing until a person reaches their mid-twenties. I have written about youth brain development on this very blog. "The New York Times" also recently reported that youth brains may be able to determine risk, but "overestimate" benefits ("Teenage Risks, and How to Avoid Them", December 18, 2007).

But you're right, it's not my kid, but preventing crime is everyone's business.

Scared of shotguns and pistols? I suggest a little healthy respect.Please tell me of ANY instance of a gun killing anyone? Think before you answer. Ever seen a gun on trial? Ever seen a gun on death row? People shoot people, by accident or otherwise. Blaming guns,unless they malfunction, for injuries or death is as silly as blaming a killers weapon instead of the killer.

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