Two days ago, a six-year-old boy picked up his father’s rifle and killed his three-year-old brother. A few days before that, a toddler got ahold of his grandmother’s gun and shot her in the back. Before that? An eight-year-old was left home alone with his younger sibling, along with a loaded gun and wound up dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Guns are left unattended so often in this country that shootings by toddlers occur every week. Despite all the protests from responsible gun owners about how responsible they are, the stories keep coming. Today, a toddler in Georgia is recovering after shooting herself with her father’s gun – who is a sheriff’s deputy.
The Dodge County Sheriff’s Department reported that the toddler of one of their deputies was recovering from a gunshot wound to her leg. According to reports, the child was left alone in a room with a loaded gun while her mom was moving furniture and the child shot herself. The gun was not her father’s service weapon, but instead a personal gun that was left carelessly on a piece of furniture.
Sheriff Lynn Sheffield called the incident a “horrible accident” and said that his department would likely not file any charges.
Almost every time we hear about a child shooting themselves –or someone else — with an unsecured gun, it is called a “horrible accident.” These “horrible accidents” take the lives of more than 7,000 children each year and injure more than 10,000. And yet, law enforcement departments across the country rarely charge the irresponsible gun owners with crimes. When a child is left in a room with a loaded gun and injures themselves, that is not a “horrible accident” but borderline child abuse.
Our country is so obsessed with guns that we are allowing our children to die at a disturbing rate. We are the only developed nation in the world where this is happening, and still our lawmakers refuse to do anything to change it. If someone owns a gun and through their own irresponsible actions, someone is hurt, they should be held accountable. We have to stop acting like this is business as usual and demand change. It is unfathomable that we, as a nation, have allowed our children to become the NRA and the rest of the gun lobby’s collateral damage.
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.