On the eighteenth day of the eighth month of the year 2018, can Americans be persuaded to start saving more youngsters’ lives — specifically, by preventing the eight children slain each day in a shooting or injury involving an improperly stored or misused gun found in the home?
That’s the ambition of “End Family Fire,” a national, multimedia campaign that’s launching this weekend and is aimed at averting incidents, including “unintentional shootings, suicides, and other gun-related tragedies,” its advocates say.
To be clear, the proponents — including the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, National PTA, American Public Health Association, American Medical Student Association, Doctors for America, American Psychological Association, Ad Council, National Register of Health Service Psychologists, and Gun Safety Alliance — aren’t talking about restricting anyone’s Second Amendment rights.
They are addressing those who already own guns or are thinking about them. They’re imploring them to ensure the safe storage of weapons in a household — away from naturally inquisitive youngsters and guests, who, sadly and in all too common fashion now, come to unintentional harm.
Advocates say that access to weapons should be difficult, storing them in locked, hard-to-reach areas. Guns and ammo should be stored separate from each other. Gun locks should be considered. Owners should take the time to talk with family members and visitors about gun safety.
These resources are not only worth checking out, it would be great to share them, and, of course, to see if they can change and save lives, especially those of young people.
In my practice, I have represented families devastated by the accidental death by gunfire of a child. I also see the harms that patients suffer while seeking medical services, and I know from my experience in the nation’s capital and surrounding areas, and in their hospitals and medical practices, the carnage that gunshot wounds can cause. They’re totally unlike how they’re depicted in TV and the movies. Patients don’t leap up, well and whole, after a 60-second commercial break, or through a story line lasting a few minutes at most. Gunshot patients face long care, commonly with extensive hospitalizations and multiple, sometimes painful follow-up surgeries or procedures. Then they must undergo challenging rehabilitation and physical therapy. Many never fully recover. Many who do survive face lifetime debilitation, including paralysis and lives wheelchair-bound. The cost for all the bloodshed and havoc rises annually. It’s a nightmare and heartbreaking to too many parents.
Yes, the U.S. Constitution affords owners certain, specific gun rights. Still, they never should suffer the grief of knowing their weapon injured or killed a child.
As the school year starts anew, Americans need to declare it unacceptable that any more youngsters die or suffer injury in any campus mass shootings. We can’t keep offering just thoughts and prayers after these terrible incidents extract their toll nationwide. We’ve must treat gun violence as a public health crisis, including funding and developing the research-based evidence on how to reduce the 96 firearm deaths that occur on average each day.
A few simple steps, common sense and not that difficult to get done, would be a great start. Who really can oppose this?