published Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Guns and tragedy

The pernicious role guns play in every-day life in the region is increasingly difficult to avoid or to downplay given the deadly and near-deadly incidents that occur with depressing regularity. Some of the cases clearly are horrible accidents. Others appear to be premeditated. The common denominator in all, though, is a firearm. Logic, then, suggests that better licensing of guns and more responsible ownership of them are appropriate ways to slow the toll of firearms-related deaths and injuries. Those suggestions find favor with too few area residents.

Perhaps some of those who have long favored ready access to guns will change their minds about the ubiquity of firearms here given recent events. How could they not following what officials say was the death of a three-year-old in Cleveland, Tenn. who accidentally shot herself. Or the accidental but deadly shooting of an 11-year-old girl by her brother in Whitfield County. Those events are not the first of their kind here.

In the summer of 2010, a 2-year-old girl was killed when her 5-year-old stepbrother accidentally shot her in the chest with what officials say was a handgun found in their home. These unfortunate incidents are part of a national crisis. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 304 children under age 14 were killed in unintentional firearms deaths across the country from 2005 to 2009 -- the latest reporting period available. More than half of those deaths occurred in the South.

That total, unfortunately, doesn't include the number of adolescents over 14 and young adults killed in gunplay. The ready availability of guns -- many of them carelessly stored and inadequately secured -- fueled by easy access to them on the street or at gun shows where legal loopholes allow almost unregulated sales, pushes up the number of accidental shootings of youngsters. No guns, no accidents.

The numbers specifically related to children are unlikely to change anytime soon. How could they when a reputable study indicates that 46 percent of Tennessee households with firearms kept the gun in the home, with about 12 percent keeping the guns loaded and 6.6 percent keeping a firearm loaded and unlocked?

There's no sure way to reduce the number of youngsters --and others -- accidentally killed with guns. Joe Kochlis, an instructor at a Chattanooga firearms store and shooting range, has the right idea, though. "I tell my students clearly, 'With ownership comes responsibility' -- whether you have young children or not. ... One careless second and it can happen in the blink of an eye. To have [a gun] available and accessible to a child can be a tragic mistake." That is an undeniable truth.

Even the most responsible gun owners sometimes forget that. The best preventatives to accidental firearms deaths among children are to reduce the overall availability of guns and -- if firearms must be kept at home -- to lock them and avoid storing them in a place accessible to children. There can be no exception to those rules. As recent events here have illustrated, it only takes a single lapse for unspeakable tragedy to occur.

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Rtazmann said...

First question that needs to be asked is where are the parents at?? All the legislation in the world won't help,,,,where are the parents??Both my parents were from Texas,,,,how many guns do you think was in our house??Me and my friends could have played Army,,,but didn't,,,Why?? Because we all knew better...First and for most you don't put a gun in the area of a 2 or 3 year old,,,what are you people thinking?? Do you see how quick children think a soap tab can be candy to children,,,a gun is no different.Quit your social climbing and come home to your family and then you can minimize so called accidents like these..Which are nothing more than neglect on the part of parents(ignorant ones.) Makes you wonder how often your kid picks up a smoke when you aren't around,,,,but not as deadly at the time.

June 14, 2012 at 1:15 a.m.
EaTn said...

Every situation is different and one child killed by a firearm is one too many. I bought my kids guns and taught them to shoot and respect them at an early age. Every parent needs to continually assess the possible dangers around the home and find unique ways to correct and teach kids about these dangers. Responsible parenting is the ultimate solution to kid safety.

June 14, 2012 at 6:02 a.m.
conservative said...

Yes it is a tragedy when a child is accidently killed by a firearm.

There are over 225,000,000 million adults in America. There will always be irresponsible behavior by some resulting in the death of children. Children are left alone in heated cars, wander of and drown in pools,ponds and lakes, struck by cars, mauled by family dogs, die of head injuries while at play and accidental falls, poisoned, electrocuted in the home while left unattended, burned to death while left unattended, die in auto accidents while not strapped in, even beaten to death by angry irresponsible adults in a fit of rage to name some other examples.

The writer cited stats of about 60 unintentional firearm deaths a year between 2005 to 2009. I am surprised it is not worse.

However, the writer later on reveals his true desire and agenda in the article when he states "No guns, no accidents."

Just be honest title the article "No guns, no accidents."

June 14, 2012 at 8:25 a.m.
jjmez said...

I've never been able to undersand America's obsession with guns. But then again, I can't under America's obsession with alcohol, drugs, and chololate. Those things just weren't a part of the household I grew up in. Only on rare special occasion like Christmas and other holidays were chocolate and other candies in the home. Now, I'll beat you down for an orange or apple, but to this day just the thought of chocolate makes me gag. So do guns, alcohol and drugs.

June 14, 2012 at 8:41 a.m.
dao1980 said...

We could pad all of sharp corners to avoid anyone bumping their head.. right?

Heaven forbid those of us with decent situational awareness be left alone to choose our own calculated risks.

Automobiles cause so many unnecessary deaths as well... lets just walk.

But hey, then how are we going to deal with the looming overpopulation issue?... Too many deers nibblin on too few berries.

June 14, 2012 at 8:55 a.m.

Americans are obsessed with guns because the founders established early on that an armed citizenry is more likely to be a free citizenry. Guns keep us free of despots and "dear leaders". Disarming the populace is always one of the first steps a dictator takes when rising to power. Armed populace = free populace.

June 14, 2012 at 9:56 a.m.
Easy123 said...


I assume you are talking about the "Hitler gun laws" of Nazi Germany when you speak of a "dictator". Let's analyze the two countries, the United States and Germany.

The United States has very lax gun laws. The firearm-related death-rate per 100,000/year is 10.27.

Germany has more strict gun laws. The firearm-related death-rate per 100,000/year is 1.57.

Japan prohibits gun possession by citizens. The firearm-related death-rate per 100,000/year is 0.07.

I don't think Germany or Japan is less "free" than the United States. Your argument might have made sense in the 1700-1800's but not in a modern society. More strict gun laws would lead to less gun-related deaths. It's a fact and it is proven all over the world with countries that have more strict gun laws than the U.S.

June 14, 2012 at 10:12 a.m.

So statistics play out that more guns=more deaths from guns? Quite the revelation.

Switzerland has 6 million people and 2 million guns. Almost ever single household has a gun. Why didn't you list their statistics on gun crime? Every male is required to own one and military training is universal. Every male must train in the safe use and care of their firearms. That is what we lack here in the U.S. Education in the responsible use of firearms. It wasn't an issue when the founders passed the 2nd ammendment since every man and boy and even some women were well versed in the use of a firearm as a function of personal security and hunting for food. The ownership of firearms should go hand in hand with training in its care and use. Then our gun fatality statistics would match those of Switzerland.

June 14, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Switzerland is at 6.4 gun-related deaths per 100,000/year.

Still very high. Much higher than Germany and Japan.

Yes, more guns along with less gun control equals more gun-related deaths.

This Switzerland argument didn't work out like you thought it would, did it?

June 14, 2012 at 11:13 a.m.
chatt_man said...

It does appear the single largest problem with these type accidents are the parents, or the "keepers" of the guns.

In this society, since guns are a common place item in most homes, even parents of kids that do not own guns need to ensure their kids know the real danger of guns and not from the things they see on TV. Again, the ultimate responsibility lies with the parents and gun owners.

I agree with FPSE's posts, and I even appreciate dao's satire in his post.

I do however, have to disagree with Easy's theory that more strict gun laws would decrease gun related deaths. It has shown in most cases that it increases crime. A good example of this can be seen in Kennesaw, GA.

Maybe if a new country was started, and controls were put in place from day one, maybe, but there is a lot of truth in the statement "If you outlaw guns, only the outlaws will have guns". Personally, since I have a 16 year old daughter, I like the saying "Guns don't kill people, fathers of teenage daughters kill people".

June 14, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

For once I agree with conservative. Responsible parents and responsible gun owners are required. But responsibility goes way beyond guns; cars, household chemicals, animals, weather, all of these result in the deaths of children (and adults). Yes, in a perfect world the society would not be saturated with guns, but we can't put that genie back in the bottle.

June 14, 2012 at 11:41 a.m.
Easy123 said...


So by disagreeing with me, I take it you are either ignoring the stats or choosing not to believe the statistics I provided. Across the world, stricter gun laws reduce firearm-related deaths. How many more statistics do you need to understand that?

192 million firearms in the US. And we are ahead of everyone in all the crime/murder categories. More strict gun laws does not equal more crime.

We will never be able to eliminate guns but we can at least have more strict gun laws and better gun education/safety.

June 14, 2012 at 11:44 a.m.

Switzerlands statistics worked out just fine. They demonstrated that even with a society saturated with guns, the incidence of deaths from firearms is extremely low. Why don't you compare gun deaths to deaths related to automobiles, you see that cars are far more dangerous than guns.

Deaths by evil cars per 100,000=11.8

Deaths by evil guns including intentional suicide=10.2

Without suicide=4.1

Aren't numbers fun? I removed suicide from the equation, becuase it's suicide. I say we ban those evil cars. They are dangerous.

June 14, 2012 at 1 p.m.
chatt_man said...

Ok, Easy has now convinced me. And while we are passing laws to restrict guns, let's pass some laws to restrict drugs. That's another problem we can get under control.

What do we need to do first with guns? We can pass laws that the following people can't own guns:

Persons under indictment for, or convicted of, any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding on year; Fugitives from justice; Persons who are unlawful users of, or addicted to, any controlled substance; Persons who have been declared by a court as mental defectives or have been committed to a mental institution; Illegal aliens, or aliens who were admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa; Persons who have been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces; Persons who have renounced their United States citizenship; Persons subject to certain types of restraining orders; and Persons who have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

What would be the next step, Easy?

June 14, 2012 at 1:18 p.m.
chatt_man said...

Oh, pardon me... the phrase from above "Illegal aliens" should be replaced by "undocumented workers".

June 14, 2012 at 1:21 p.m.

We have laws restricting guns, automobiles, drugs and other chemicals, food and children's toys.

Some laws have been effective. Some have not. This is true of all human endeavor. If you are demanding perfection, you will find yourself in violation in short order.

The dogmatic intransigence to doing anything has...only prevented discussion.

Thanks. So appreciated that we can't even consider any ideas. More time is spent pontificating excuses than on any kind of solution.

Can't even propose safety courses without somebody upset about it.

June 14, 2012 at 2:03 p.m.
Easy123 said...

FPSE and chattman,

You two have mastered the art of the slippery slope argument.

Look at the statistics. All the evidence is right there for you to see.

June 14, 2012 at 2:12 p.m.
chatt_man said...

That's ok happy, we didn't expect any solutions from you folks.

June 14, 2012 at 2:19 p.m.
chatt_man said...

Wrong, at least from my opinion. I welcome, and approve of gun safety courses.

June 14, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.
Easy123 said...

I mentioned that earlier. I think gun education/safety along with more strict enforcement of the current gun laws and new, stricter gun laws would do a lot of good.

June 14, 2012 at 2:31 p.m.

Gun laws don't prevent accidents. Gun laws don't prevent murders. Gun laws don't prevent robberies. Gun laws don't prevent wars. Gun laws only prevent law abiding people from having guns. The problem with guns is minor as it constitutes only 2% of deaths in the U.S. 98% of deaths are caused by something else. Focusing on that miniscule 2% tells me there is a reason other than the deaths caused by guns for these laws. I will go with the wisdom of the founders of this country for the reason. I don't want a nanny state to protect me from all of the dangers out there. I prefer to keep my freedoms and assume the risks. I look forward to the consequenses of freedom.

June 14, 2012 at 2:54 p.m.

Great, then the next time somebody screams about being taught to secure their firearm, especially if they have a small children, you can deal with them.

And you don't even accept that there are problems, you just make excuses for them, so why would you care about a solution?

June 14, 2012 at 2:56 p.m.

There are always going to be problems with dangerous objects because people aren't perfect. All the laws in the world aren't going to make any man perfect. I have turned your first sentence every which way and I can't figure out what you mean. Why would someone scream about being taught how to secure their firearm? Is it that they don't want to do it? Are you saying a gun law will make them more responsible?

June 14, 2012 at 3:05 p.m.

Yep, nothing will be perfect, yet we continue our muddling along, fixing and building what we can. Trying to achieve perfection is foolish, making things sensible.

If you want to know why they react that way, ask them, they'll probably give some fuming story about how nobody is going to tell them what to do. But it could be they'll come up with something else. Regardless, you can deal with them.

But yes, part of the purpose of laws is to make people face the consequences of their actions. That does foster responsibility. Have you missed the past few hundred years of legal philosophy? What do you think the 10-20-life advertisements were about? Click-it or Ticket? Whatever they call their New Year's DUI program?

June 14, 2012 at 3:22 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Gun laws can prevent people from having guns which could prevent accidents. Same with murders. Same with robberies. What does war have to do with gun laws? Gun laws do not only prevent law abiding citizens from having guns.

The problem is very apparent. Almost 9,000 deaths caused by firearms/year is too many. Britain only had 600 total murders/year. We double that.

Nanny state? What are you talking about? Have you heard of police officers? We already have some gun laws. How does that equate to a "nanny state"?

Keep your freedoms of owning a gun. I bet you have never had to shoot anyone. And I bet, if the time came, pulling the trigger might be more difficult than you think. Maybe if your son or daughter got a hold of your gun and one of those "accidents" happens, you might rethink your position.

Also, you can be perfect and still get killed by a firearm. Laws make people more responsible. That's why we have them.

June 14, 2012 at 3:30 p.m.

Easy123, You are talking about a gun ban. We can also prevent even more deaths by locking everyone in their own padded rooms in straight jackets. A balance between safety and freedom can be struck through intelligent legislation which doesn't remove rights, but still makes things safer for everyone. Gun control talk should shift from denying gun ownership to encouraging responsible gun ownership. You don't get killed by the firearm. You get killed by the person holding/handling it.

My children know better than to touch a gun without an adult supervising them. They have been taught how dangerous they are. They are old enough to be trusted. If I had little children, I would take more precautions, because I am a responsible parent. Laws didn't make me responsible. Common sense is the secret to my success. Sadly, you can't legislate common sense.

June 14, 2012 at 3:43 p.m.
chatt_man said...

Obama and Holder will, in the future, have to try other methods of ridding America of it's gun problems. Shipping them to Mexico fast and furiously is causing them a few problems.

June 14, 2012 at 3:46 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Show me where I made any mention of a gun ban.

I think gun education/safety along with more strict enforcement of the current gun laws and new, stricter gun laws would do a lot of good.

June 14, 2012 at 3:57 p.m.
chatt_man said...

Easy - I agree with your statement "I think gun education/safety along with more strict enforcement of the current gun laws" is needed. I would have to see what "new" gun laws you have in mind.

Unfortunately, like bulbs stated earlier, and I have stated here before about a range of issues... we argue the extremities so much, and the topics are so polarizing that neither side will give the other anything, for fear of losing more.

June 14, 2012 at 4:08 p.m.

Sorry, but everybody's still stuck appealing to their base.

Apparently it's impossible to accept that laws exist because not everybody is the ideal man.

June 14, 2012 at 5:44 p.m.
gjuster said...

We need to outlaw swimming pools. A child is 100 times more likely to die from drowning in a pool that by a gun. Where's the outrage???

June 14, 2012 at 5:55 p.m.

There is plenty of outrage over swimming pools, and appropriate regulations thereof.

Not that there aren't people who react much the same way to any of those laws as they do to a gun law, but they do exist.

Are you so unaware of them that somehow you think that this particularly tired argument is persuasive?

June 14, 2012 at 9:35 p.m.
gjuster said...

Really? - outrage - can't remember the last time I saw an editorial about the danger of swimming pools or bathtubs, yet we see them constantly about guns. Sorry I offended you with a tired argument.

June 15, 2012 at 12:50 a.m.

Offended? No, just disappointed me with the tediousness of it.

And if you're judging the concern for an issue based on newspaper editorials, well, that's disappointing too. You may have noticed, they write fewer editorials than there are issues. Some of them are going to get less coverage than others.

June 15, 2012 at 1:13 a.m.

Easy123 said "Gun laws can prevent people from having guns which could prevent accidents."

That is effectively a gun ban if the law prevents people from having a gun to prevent accidents.

I just don't like the nanny state constantly telling me things are dangerous that I already know are dangerous and making laws to prevent me from doing them. If I want to take the risk and not wear my seatbelt when driving my car, I should be allowed to do it. If I want to eat salt, I should be able to do that. I don't need any government telling me what is and isn't dangerous. I grew up and moved out of mom's house long ago. I don't look to anyone to protect me, care for me or make decisions for me. I don't need anyone holding my hand or wiping my nose for me. I am an Adult. The problem we have is we have too many people that don't want to take responsibility for their own actions, because the government keeps telling them that they don't have to and it's not their fault. I want personal accountability to be restored so that people grow up and contribute to a free society. A society where men and women cut those apron strings and act like adults.

June 15, 2012 at 11:08 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

I agree with the constitution. The right to gun ownership is there for a reason. It is not going away. You guys have definately been good cheer leaders for this issue. Easy makes excellent points, but the fact remains that it is Right #2. But I wonder then, why is it that you do not take such a serious stance with the voting rights, freedom of speech, and separation of church and state. All of these issues used to be Republican stances, and are part of our Constitution and Bill of Rights as well.

FlyingPurpleSheepleEater said... A society where men and women cut those apron strings and act like adults.

I agree with your post until you get to this line. Indeed, we were not able to cut the apron strings until we were able to take care of people. Until you realize that there are many that we as a people do want to take care of, that cannot, or should not be taking care of themselves, you might as well be talking to the wall.

June 15, 2012 at 1:41 p.m.

I hope you realize I was talking about sane, able bodied adults. The elderly, sick and the mentally handicapped are of course exceptions. The communities these people live in should band together and care for the helpless. For the rest, get off of welfare, get a job and quit bringing us all down.

June 15, 2012 at 3:52 p.m.
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