Let’s talk about guns, responsibilities, kids

Published 11:55 am Friday, March 15, 2024

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Let’s talk about us and our guns.

Now, before you get your panties all wadded up in a knot and start pulling the slide back on your AR15 because you think I’m about to suggest that folks give up your guns, stop. All I’m suggesting is that you do something to save a child’s life. You can care about the kids, right? You can do that, can’t you?

This is about only one of a gun owner’s many responsibilities.

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I don’t need to tell you that kids–little bitty kids–know how to shoot guns. But here’s one example that hurts to read: a story out of Greenville, N.C., in Pitt County. That’s where police were called six weeks ago to investigate an “accidental shooting.”

When they arrived, they found a 3-year-old child suffering from a gunshot wound. The child was rushed to the hospital but died. He had gotten his hands on a gun inside the home and accidentally shot himself, police said. Authorities said the shooting did not violate North Carolina statute 14-315.1, which refers to the storage of firearms to protect minors. Police said the adults in the house had taken precautions to keep the weapon out of the reach of children.

I realize that hindsight is 20/20, but the investigators were wrong. The adults failed to secure the weapon. Otherwise, the child would not have gotten his hands on it. Period.

This is how the law reads:

Any person who resides in the same premises as a minor, owns or possesses a firearm, and stores or leaves the firearm (i) in a condition that the firearm can be discharged and (ii) in a manner that the person knows or should have known that an unsupervised minor would be able to gain access to the firearm, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if a minor gains access to the firearm without the lawful permission of the minor’s parents or a person having charge of the minor…”

In Lenoir County two months ago, another 3-year-old, Clarence Roland Byrd IV, picked up daddy’s handgun and shot himself in the face. He died. Police decided the gun was not secure and filed charges against Clarence Byrd III.

In Pitt County, Kayden Swinnely, 3, is dead because he was able to pick up a loaded gun and accidentally shoot himself in the head. Police later said a teenager who was in the home “broke into a locked and secured gun box. It appears the teenager was playing with the gun in the presence of Kayden at some point, and this was occurring unbeknownst to the family members in the home,” police said. The district attorney decided no charges would be filed.

Words matter, folks. Police said the gun was in a “locked and secured gun box.” Wrong. Secure means secure. Locked means locked. Dead means dead.

If you own a gun, be responsible even though you might not be held accountable by anyone other than God.

That means leaving your gun in your unlocked pickup truck makes you a bad person.

So, when you see a little 3-year-old child enjoying an ice cream cone on Saturday or sitting nicely in a church pew on Sunday, consider him or her your personal responsibility.

Otherwise, you’re not a real man or woman. You’re a wuss for not securing your weapons.

Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at hardscrabblehollow@gmail.com