What happens when children find loaded or unloaded guns and ammunition in their homes?
On July 5, 2012, Levi Reed, a 14-year-old boy and resident of Clintonville, Ohio accidentally shot his friend Noah McGuire, also 14 years old. The Ohio Children’s Defense Fund printed a 2012 article entitled, “The Problem: Loaded and Unlocked Guns are Injuring and Killing Ohio’s Youth.”
Gun-related injury facts on Nationwide Children’s Hospital website from The American Academy of Pediatrics report: Nearly 1,500 children younger than 18 years of age die from shootings every year. Most of the victims of unintentional shootings are boys and they are usually shot by a friend or relative, especially a brother. Half of all unintentional shooting deaths among children occur at home, and almost half occur in the home of a friend or relative. Visit www.nationwidechildrens.org/cirp-gun-safety.
Almost half of all states in the USA have passed Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws. CAP is also referred to as safe-storage laws. Ohio does not have CAP laws. CAP laws were passed to protect children without taking away the Second Amendment right.
It’s worth repeating — Ohio does not have CAP laws. Why not? Protecting children from dying is our responsibility. If parents will not safely store guns in their home, then the government has to pass and enforce laws to make parents use common sense.
Ohio has a locking device law, Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 2923.25, that requires licensed firearm dealers to offer locking devices with all firearm transfers to their buyers. However, the ORC does not require the gun purchaser to buy the locking device or use it. I’m scratching my head, but not because of my winter dermatitis. Where is the common sense in this law?
“The Ohio legislature should enact a comprehensive and effective Child Access Prevention (CAP) law that would require all guns to be stored safely and securely in any place; whenever gun owners know or reasonably should know that children may access their guns, they must store them unloaded and locked, with ammunition locked in a separate location. Felony liability would be imposed for any violation of the law that results injury or death. The evidence shows that CAP laws prevent gun fatalities and injuries among children and teenagers, and they may also reduce significant economic, psychological and emotional costs.”
I’m glad The Ohio Children’s Defense Fund is speaking as the voice for our children.
According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch, in 2015 State Representative Bill Patmon, a Democrat from Cleveland, tried multiple times to introduce a bill to enact a CAP law in Ohio. In an interview with the reporter, Rita Price, Patmon stated, “Too many Ohio legislators listen more to the powerful gun lobby, which calls safe-storage laws unnecessary and ineffective, than to anguished voices in their communities.”
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a national anti-gun-violence movement, 174 unintentional shootings involving children 17 or younger occurred nationwide in 2015, including 13 in Ohio. Five of the Ohio cases resulted in deaths. It’s 2018 and Ohio still does not have CAP laws.
Unintentional firearm death of children shooting children needs to be addressed in Ohio. I support the Second Amendment. However, I also support CAP laws to prevent unsupervised children from accidentally shooting each other with unsecured guns found in their homes or relatives’ homes or friends’ homes. Our children’s lives are worth it.
It’s worth repeating again — Ohio does not have CAP laws. Why not?
Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in southern Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.