A 2-year-old boy picked up a gun and shot and killed his mother from the backseat of a car in Milwaukee on Wednesday, the Guardian reported. According to the Washington Post, it's just one of nearly two dozen such incidents this year.
Since Jan. 1, the Post found, there have been an astonishing 23 incidents in which a toddler picked up a gun, fired it, and hit someone — in 18 cases, the victim was the toddler, though in five, it was a bystander. In one incident in March, the victim was a Florida gun rights activist, Jamie Gilt, who posted a meme saying "my right to protect my child with my gun trumps your fear of my gun."
While toddler-involved shootings are perhaps the most egregious gun incidents, their older brothers and sisters are pulling their weight as well. At least 77 people aged 17 or younger have shot someone with a firearm this year as of April 26, according to pro-gun control group Everytown For Gun Safety.
According to the Post, shootings involving toddlers are disproportionately located in gun-friendly states including Georgia, Florida, Missouri and Texas, as well as Michigan, which has a major gun problem in the metro Detroit region. This follows a well-established pattern of gun violence in which states with looser gun laws tend to have more gun-related injuries and deaths.
"Such disasters result in hundreds of child fatalities and have made American children nine times more likely to die in gun accidents than children anywhere else in the developed world," wrote the Post's Nathan J. Robinson. "They demonstrate fairly conclusively that guns cannot be both safe and ubiquitous; the inevitable consequence of widespread gun ownership is a never-ending series of tragedies involving children."
"Yet the prevailing attitude appears to be that even talk of basic responsible ownership is for wusses and Constitution-haters," he added. "The NRA has waged all-out war against pediatricians and the CDC for recommending gun safety to parents, lobbying hard for laws to prohibit doctors from even discussing firearms risks with families."
On the other hand, there's absolutely no telling whether those 23 gun-toting toddlers were just watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants. Or guns don't kill toddlers, toddlers kill toddlers. The only thing that can stop a bad toddler with a gun is a good toddler with a gun. Etc.
Rinse and repeat, because if the U.S. is good at one thing, it's justifying entirely preventable and extremely widespread death, maiming and heartbreak from firearms with folksy maxims about gun rights and liberty.