Yesterday, a six-year-old in Indianapolis accidentally shot and killed his father when he was playing with a gun left on the table. A few weeks earlier, a three-year-old child in Alabama picked up his great-grandfather’s pistol and accidentally shot and killed his nine-year-old sister. A few days before that, a two-year-old shot himself in the leg with his father’s gun in Washington, D.C. There have been a heartbreaking 18 shootings by children under the age of ten so far this year; six of those shootings were fatal, while nine of the victims were other children and three of victims were the shooters themselves.
Which is why it is extremely disturbing to hear that Republicans in the Iowa statehouse have just passed a bill that would allow children under the age of fourteen to use firearms with “parental supervision,” with no age limit. It would allow a two-or-three year old to use firearms, prompting a frustrated Democrat to ask exactly what kind of gun fits in the hand of a two year old, arguing quite reasonably that “we do not need a militia of toddlers!”
“You’re missing the whole point of the bill. I think this is one of the best bills we’ve done for second amendment rights” replied Republican Jake Highfill. The legislature also approved bills that would allow loaded firearms on snowmobiles and allow people to keep their weapons permits confidential, making it clear where their priorities are.
It is a testament to the madness of gun fever in this nation and the pernicious machinations of the NRA – members of which were “looking on” as the hearings proceeded – that they are actively trying to put deadly weapons into the hands of children. Two months into the new year, there have been 7,190 shooting incidents, resulting in 1,856 deaths – 76 of the victims were children. Given how many obviously irresponsible grown adults handle their weapons, passing laws encouraging people to put guns in the hands of children is criminally negligent and is entirely unnecessary. The Republican Party is the party of death. Their policies offer bullets, hunger, poverty, ignorance, and disease to the American people, and have proven to be unworthy of the prominent place in American politics that they currently occupy. It’s time to change that – for the sake of innocent children across the nation.
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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.