Gun Control 2013: Yet Another Tragic Accident Involving Children and Guns, Who's to Blame?


The question keeps being asked, but I can't help but feel that it is never answered: How many deaths are enough till we agree that we need major gun control reform?

Friday at noon, in a small duplex apartment in Arizona, a 4-year-old fatally shot his father.

35-year-old Justin Stanfield from Phoenix had taken his son to visit his former roommate. While the men were speaking, the child was wandering around the house when he came across a small-caliber handgun. He picked it up and brought it over to the adults, asking them what he was holding and what it did. Before anyone could respond, the gun accidentally went off (whether or not the child actually pressed the trigger has not been confirmed), shooting Stanfield in the chest. 

Stanfield was immediately rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. After several interviews, police have determined that there was no misconduct, and that it was indeed a tragic accident.

But that makes it sound as if this was just a one-time occurrence that is to be lamented. Instead, this shooting is merely one in a string of recent gun violence incidents, even if you just look at the incredibly specific category of children accidentally shooting guns in the month of May: A three-year-old shot and killed himself with his uncle's gun. A four-year-old shot and killed his 11-year-old brother with his babysitter's gun. A 12-year-old shot and killed her 15-year-old sister with the family gun.

And obviously, these are only gun deaths in a very small subset of the gun violence that has happened in the last month. California is still reeling from the Santa Monica shooting that occurred just days ago.

Now, I know that many people are going to insist that this isn't a matter of gun control, but gun safety. Let everyone own a gun, just make sure they know how to use it properly. But how realistic is that? I'm strongly in support of having those who own guns take mandatory gun safety lessons, but I'm also willing to bet that too many people will still be careless and children (not to mention countless adults) will still die or become de facto murderers because they will get their hands on the guns anyway.

At the same time, though I think gun control is the best option, I admit that it's not a politically-popular move. The only other option that is both effective and not politically alienating seems to be the demand that those who own guns are held legally accountable for the use of that gun in a safe and responsible way. If you're old enough to own a gun, you should be old enough to treat it safely, and you're definitely old enough to know that you shouldn't leave it lying around for children to play with. And if you don't secure it and a child shoots his father, you should be the one held responsible for his death.