Monday, April 14, 2014
It's an animated cartoon, in which a kid finds something scary in the hall closet. His parents tell him there is no such thing as monsters. Eventually, curiosity overrides fear, with tragic results, when he decides to play with the "monster"-- a gun.
Here, watch if you want, but please stick around to hear my thoughts on this bit of blatant fearmongering propaganda.
OK, so what's wrong with that?
Where do I start?
Yes, folks, the monster is real, and it is ignorance, not a tool.
They say 1.5 million children live in homes with unsecured guns. And yet, we do not have millions of accidental gun deaths a year. Why is that?
Simply because the vast majority of parents in gun owning households are responsible people who practice gun safety and teach it to their children.
Ignorance is the monster, not guns. Fear is its ugly cousin. And education is the answer, the magic potion that banishes monsters, not further "feel good" knee-jerk failed gun control legislation.
If you wouldn't let a child play unsupervised with a band saw, then don't let him do so with a gun. This is not rocket science. Both are tools that pose major hazards if improperly used. Yet nobody is calling band saws monsters, legislating their storage and use, or demonizing their owners.
Nor, significantly, is anyone inadvertently teaching their children that band saws are toys, and gifting them with miniature plastic versions.
In many gun owning households, "toy guns" are not welcome, because they teach entirely the wrong lesson: disrespect for firearms.
It is, once again, our culture at fault, not a tool. (Just as our culture is where the roots of violence are formed, in poverty, alienation, hopelessness, and hate, which are what we really need to address, rather than demonizing any one particular tool that people use to commit violence.)
Stop buying Johnny a plastic popgun, and maybe he will not be inclined to play with the real thing.
Better yet, introduce Johnny to Eddie Eagle, or if you can't bring yourself to have even that little to do with the NRA, find another gun safety program.
Better yet, take Johnny to the range, and shoot a watermelon. Let Johnny see with his own eyes what power firearms have.
Then explain to him that the same thing can happen to someone's head if you point a gun at it. Guns are not toys.
Teach gun safety, not fear.
Fear doesn't work. It may, in the short term. But for the same reason that we love rollercoasters and horror movies, fear is not the antidote to curiosity. Eventually, curiosity and thrill seeking win out over fear. Fear mongering and labeling things or people as monsters is not the appropriate answer to curiosity. Providing knowledge is.
Teach kids to respect the power of firearms, the same way you teach them to respect power tools like band saws, lathes, circular saws, etc.
We will all be safer.
And here's Eddie Eagle, to assist you: