"Curiosity killed the cat." Remember this phrase, because never have four words had graver implications.
Recently, the television program 20/20 released the results of an experiment among curious 18- to 22-year-olds about their lack of familiarity with guns. These teens and young adults responded to a newspaper advertisement and each volunteered to clean out a garage in their neighborhood. Inside, two unloaded guns were hidden among the clutter. The video footage illustrates a shocking outcome: teens and young adults handles unfamiliar weapons no more responsibly than toddlers who had been similarly observed ten years earlier.
An expert from the New Jersey Firearms Academy, Lateif Dickerson, predicted that the teens would avoid contact with the guns because guns are foreign to much of the U.S. population. However, the youths handled the guns recklessly, pointing them at others, holding them to their own heads, and staring down the gun barrels. Though no participant attempted to hide the gun in his pants pockets as several young children had, ten years earlier.
Experts explain this teenage desensitization and, frankly, morbid fascination with handguns to the highly publicized campus gun violence of the past decade. The fact is that more 18- to 22-year-olds die in accidental handgun deaths than any other age group and peer pressure has been shown to play a large role as well. In the experiment described above, one 20/20 producer posed as a participant in cleaning the garage. He came across a gun and handled it and he proved influential in recruiting the subjects to do the same, rather than avoid the gun, in all but two cases.
It turns out food isn't the only thing we should be taught not to play with. These startling results demonstrate that the college-age population requires a serious lesson in gun safety and personal responsibility. Aren't we too old to think that gunplay is okay?