A recent tragedy involving the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy is bringing to light the importance of firearm safety.
Earlier this month near Peoli, Ohio a 12-year-old boy and his older brother were engaged in target practice in a barn on their family’s property.
According to the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office, the brothers began to play around and the 12-year-old accidentally fired the 20-gauge shotgun, fatally shooting his 15-year-old brother in the chest.
“Normally, they told us that they kept that weapon locked up until just two or three days prior to that and that these boys were shooting barn swallows so they allowed it to remain in the barn,” explained Sheriff Orvis Campbell. “Firearms are just something that you have to handle almost like a ticking bomb.”
Sheriff Campbell noted another incident during his time with the Sheriff’s Office in which a five-year-old boy climbed up a shelf and got his father’s gun off the top, where he’d put it thinking it was out of reach. The child then shot himself in the groin.
“He told us that he stuck it in the front of his pants like he sees in the movies,” said Sheriff Campbell. The child had surgery and recovered from the injury.
The Sheriff stressed how much children truly pay attention to not only what we do, but what actors do in movies and characters do in video games.
“Kids are far more intelligent and pay attention to a lot of things that we may think that they don’t,” added Sheriff Campbell.
He explained there is comfort in good education and training when it comes to how to handle a firearm and that can be provided to children as well. However; he stressed that unless there is proper supervision during each and every contact with a firearm, it needs to be locked up.
Sheriff Campbell explained a good approach to take if there are firearms in your home is to purchase a safe.
“We urge people to please don’t put yourself in that position,” he said. “Invest in a safe, a lockbox. You can get lockboxes that are very inexpensive.”
Sheriff Campbell added to also consider the content your children are receiving as they often want to emulate those they perceive as heroes or role models. He noted the violence often found in mainstream movies and video games and suggested that content isn’t necessarily suitable for children.
In a 2017 report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers examined fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries among children aged 0 to 17 in the United States.
The results of the study indicate nearly 1,300 children die and 5,790 are treated nationwide for gunshot wounds each year.
The report also indicates firearm-related deaths are the third leading cause of death overall among US children aged 1 to 17 years and the second leading cause of injury-related death.
Officials add the latest AAP study is the most comprehensive analysis of firearm-related deaths and injuries among US children to date.
The full report can be found here.
The photo in this article is from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. An advocacy group in New York that has been working to reduce gun violence since 1993. However; this article refers to a local case in Tuscarawas County, Ohio.
Michaela Madison Reporting