In a tragic and easily preventable incident, a 12-year-old South Carolina boy was fatally shot by his 11-year-old brother during a family outing that involved target-shooting. Authorities have deemed the death an accident. Sheriff Dale Williams of Carroll County, Ohio, where the shooting took place, said on Monday: “The 11-year-old picked up a weapon off of a picnic table. He accidentally shot it.” The gun went off and struck the victim, Joseph Baily, in the head.
The young boy’s death comes in the wake of not only another incident involving children murdering each other, but also the mass shooting at an Oregon community college that has once again ignited a debate in this country over gun control. Republicans have attempted to steer the focus away from guns and exclusively onto mental health, but this terrible incident shows that the danger of guns does not stem solely from mental illness or radical extremism. Guns can affect every aspect of life.
Although the shooting was an accident, legal action can and should be taken against the parents and/or gun owner, who were neglectful enough to leave a loaded handgun lying on a picnic table in view of children. Regarding a potential criminal investigation, Sheriff Williams stated: “Everything will be finalized and the results will be sent to the (county) prosecutor.”
Republicans and the NRA want us to accept that somehow more guns would mean less shootings. But despite the insanity of the “good guy with a gun” approach to preventing shootings, there’s no way such an approach could have stopped this young boy’s death.
In fact, the number of accidental gun deaths is staggering. According to the CDC, roughly 60 children (under 15) were killed per year in accidental shootings, on average, between 2007 and 2011. American children are almost ten times more likely to die in gun accidents than children in other developed nations.
Despite this glaring epidemic, the NRA consistently promotes guns to children, with events like the annual “Youth Day,” where children interact with gun manufacturers and can enter a raffle to win a shotgun. We cannot allow the NRA to continue to put our nation’s children at risk. When thinking about gun control, it’s important to keep in mind not just those who die in mass shootings, but also the everyday costs of gun ownership in this country, and especially the toll it takes on our youth.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.