Photo credit: DIGIcal/iStock / 360/Getty Images
Regardless of your stance on gun rights, we can all agree that guns should not be accessible for children. Especially preschool children. Especially when no adults are around. But as an experiment, WMC Action News 5 in Covington, Tennessee, teamed up with a day care, the local fire department and a children's hospital and set up exactly that scenario to see just how well the kids knew gun safety.
A representative from the hospital that took part in the experiment, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, said gunshot wounds have been on the rise over the last couple of years, that most are accidental, and that the majority result from a child finding the gun.
An unloaded black gun was left (by law enforcement) in one of the day care's puzzle cubbies. The teacher ushered 12 kids into the room and asked them to play only with puzzles while she was out of the room, and she left. Parents watched from down the hall via hidden cameras.
A child found the gun within minutes, and didn't tell his friends. Instead, he left to find an adult. One by one the kids came across the weapon, and from a distance it seemed that none of the little ones touched it. The children are quoted as saying just that:
"I didn't touch it because it was real," said Gabriel Bemish.
"If you get it in your hand it might kill you," added Preston Fiveash.
"I run away from it when I first saw it, and then I fell, but I got up and went away," said Corianna Brassfield.
When the officer re-entered the room, every child denied picking the gun up. But a camera hidden inside the puzzle box revealed a very different story.
One boy picked the gun up, inspected it, and on realizing it wasn't a toy, put it down and warned the others to stay away.
One of the girls, however, touched the gun three times, and tried to fire it twice. After the experiment was over and the parents came back in the room, the girl was adamant that she didn't touch the gun. Her parents had taught her to, if she ever saw a gun, walk away from it and tell a parent.
"I didn't touch it," she insisted, but later admitted that she lied because she didn't want her mom to be mad.
So what can we learn from all this? You might be able to trust your kid to know what to do if he runs across a gun. You might not. And there's no way to know for sure until it happens. Why take the risk?
The hospital says that most gun injuries happen to children because guns are not properly locked up. So put your guns in a safe, and ask other parents if they do the same before sending your kids over to play. When it comes to firearms, be the obnoxious, overbearing, helicopter parent. You may never know what tragedy you prevented.