Guns Don’t Kill Children … Swimming Pools and Cars Do.

 

shutterstock_216525253This piece from Reason is a good primer on the lack of a market for “smart-guns,” and covers both the technical challenges in making them and — more interestingly — the lack of demand for them. Is this because gun owners are callous, child-hating fanatics? No: it’s just that firearms don’t kill that many kids.

Inspired by the piece, I took a gander through some of the CDC data for fatal injuries to children between the ages of 0 and 14 years in the United States between 2004 and 2010 (the most recent period listed). Here are some relevant data for the an average year during that period:

  • 6,327 children were killed through injury (all causes, both intentional and non-intentional).
  • 1,890 were killed through unintentional cars accidents  (30 percent of total).
  • 749 were killed by unintentional drowning  (12 percent of total).
  • 45 were killed by unintentional use of firearms (less than 1 percent of total).
    • 378 were killed by all uses of firearms (6 percent of total). This would include all child suicides and homicides, as well as accidents.

(It should go without saying — though I’ll say it regardless — that every one of those deaths is a tragedy and that I can only imagine what the parents must be going through.)

So, the fact that there isn’t much of a market for smart-guns seems to be — in part — informed by gun owners’ understanding that there isn’t a great deal of need for them, especially in comparison to other threats to their kids’ safety and lives.

We all have a natural tendency to focus on obviously scary threats in comparison to others: sharks, for example, are way more frightening than moose, despite the fact that the latter are far more dangerous to human life. This isn’t surprising, nor irrational. It just means people aren’t familiar with the data and are letting their limbic system do their thinking for them, which is what we all do unless pushed and/or presented really hard evidence.

So, for God’s sake, buckle your kids up, drive safe, teach them to swim early and how to be smart around water. And yes, teach them to be safe are firearms and secure them from unauthorized use, too.

And watch out for moose.

There are 35 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton
    @KevinCreighton

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: sharks, for example, are way more frightening than moose,

    A moose once bit my sister…

    • #1
  2. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton
    @KevinCreighton

    Unlocked, unattended swimming pools are VERY dangerous for young kids, that’s why pool-building companies vigorously support water safety programs.

    The National Shooting Sports Foundation (the actual gun lobby: The NRA is the gun OWNERS lobby) vigorously supports gun safety and has an effective program to help stop little hands from dangerous play with guns,  as does the NRA.

    Which drives the anti-gun crowd INSANE, because their goal is not gun safety, it’s gun confiscation.

    • #2
  3. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Kevin Creighton:The National Shooting Sports Foundation (the actual gun lobby: The NRA is the gun OWNERS lobby) vigorously supports gun safety and has an effective program to help stop little hands from dangerous play with guns, as does the NRA.

    Which drives the anti-gun crowd INSANE, because their goal is not gun safety, it’s gun confiscation.

    Hard to escape that conclusion, huh?

    • #3
  4. iDad Member
    iDad
    @iDad

    A fair number of years ago, there were three separate drownings of  young children (I believe they were all under 5) in swimming pools in one week in the Tampa Bay area.  Each was reported in single paragraph “Local News Roundup” pieces buried way back from the front page.  I commented at the time that if there had been three separate shootings of children in one week, the media would have been in a frenzy.

    • #4
  5. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Tom,

    The swimming pool is an exceptionally dangerous problem in Florida. It is the toddler that is most at risk. They are naturally curious and if they can crawl to the side of the pool they will and if they fall in with no one to see they will surely drown. There are numerous legal requirements for fencing around pools for this specific reason. It should be obvious but as you say we don’t always see the obvious. The left is always interested in exploiting the visceral fears. They laugh at the for profit insurance industry. Yet it is the competitive private insurance industry that more often than not uncovers the real risks. Somebody must put money in an account to hedge against it. Free enterprise that is so often accused of every crime is many times the unseen and certainly unappreciated angel.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #5
  6. Robert McReynolds Member
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Great info Tom, thanks.

    • #6
  7. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    The guy who supports this type of nonsense…

    Along with President Obama, Rosenberg wonders why we can’t make all guns like we can apparently make smartphones: unusable without the right fingerprint, or otherwise personalized so only one owner can ever use it?

    …has never tried to use the finger printer reader on his phone right after he got out of the shower.  Or when he’s got a bit of jam on his thumb.  Nor has he watched a member of his family, or someone at work, fumble around with the finger printer reader in frustration.

    The tech that goes in to a smartphone is the kind of tech that is just good enough for that application, and no better.  If you want tech that works all of the time, without question, no matter what, well, then you gotta pay.  Big.

    • #7
  8. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    or maybe these gun control advocates could take a walk through a place like Seattle Children’s in the cancer ward.

    If your big concern is “the children,” there are productive uses of your time/energy/money.  But we know that’s not the concern, now, don’t we…

    • #8
  9. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    Spin:The guy who supports this type of nonsense…

    Along with President Obama, Rosenberg wonders why we can’t make all guns like we can apparently make smartphones: unusable without the right fingerprint, or otherwise personalized so only one owner can ever use it?

    …has never tried to use the finger printer reader on his phone right after he got out of the shower. Or when he’s got a bit of jam on his thumb. Nor has he watched a member of his family, or someone at work, fumble around with the finger printer reader in frustration.

    The tech that goes in to a smartphone is the kind of tech that is just good enough for that application, and no better. If you want tech that works all of the time, without question, no matter what, well, then you gotta pay. Big.

    Hah!  He’s probably also never shot a firearm and noticed the conspicuous absence of electronic components that could even be controlled with a fingerprint reader.

    • #9
  10. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Secondary point…

    I took my youngest (he’s 10) to the range Saturday morning.  I have been promising to take him, just he and I.  The goal was to let him shoot the AR, as he had not done so yet.  He’s got a fair amount of experience shooting pistols, for a 10 year old, and the .22 rifle, but he’d not shot that awesome looking weapon, the AR.  And everyone wants to shoot that!

    Anyway, we’d been there a bit, and he was loading up a magazine, when an older gentleman walked past us on his way to the 200 yard bay.  He said to my son “Do you know who the most important person at this range is?”  My son did what all 10 year olds do when a stranger asks them a question:  he stood there with a blank look on his face and finally shrugged his shoulders.  The old guy  says “You are!  You are a future shooter!  And you are the most important person on this range today!”  Then he thanked me for bringing him to the range, and went on his way.

    Here’s my point:  if you want your children to be safe with guns then you have to raise them to be safe with guns.  There is no program that you can enroll your child in that will excuse you from that job.  There is no law that will excuse you from that job.  There is no technology that will make it so you do not have to do that job.  It is your job.  Period.

    I am not the greatest dad in the world, but I am happy to say that raising my children to respect firearms is something I have done.  And I think I have done it well.  No finger print reader required.

    • #10
  11. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Unintentional accidents?

    • #11
  12. Olive Member
    Olive
    @Olive

    Thanks for posting this.

    • #12
  13. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    RyanM: Hah! He’s probably also never shot a firearm and noticed the conspicuous absence of electronic components that could even be controlled with a fingerprint reader.

    True, but if there was a market for it, it could be done.  It just either wouldn’t work reliably, or it would be really expensive.

    “Hey, criminal, hang on one second while I program my finger print in to this gun using my iPhone app, which I took off my iPhone because it was taking up too much space, but the finger print reader ran out of internal battery, losing my programmed finger prints.  And my wifi isn’t working just now and I only have two bars so it’s gonna take a minute…hey honey, can you find the book on the finger print reader for my glock?  I can’t remember if I have to hold that button down for 3 seconds until the light flashes or 10 seconds…oh wait, there it goes.”

    Or:  “Mother [expletive], you got 3 seconds to turn your [expletive] around and leave this house before I blast you in the chest with this Remington Model 870 Wingmaster that is old as the hills and doesn’t have a finger print reader nor a fancy sight nor a hair trigger nor anything really awesome but will still make you wish you’d never come in here.  One…two…”

    • #13
  14. mezzrow Member
    mezzrow
    @mezzrow

    Kevin Creighton:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: sharks, for example, are way more frightening than moose,

    A moose once bit my sister…

    How can you be sure it wasn’t the Rabinowitzes?

    • #14
  15. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    Spin:Secondary point…

    I took my youngest (he’s 10) to the range Saturday morning. I have been promising to take him, just he and I. The goal was to let him shoot the AR, as he had not done so yet. He’s got a fair amount of experience shooting pistols, for a 10 year old, and the .22 rifle, but he’d not shot that awesome looking weapon, the AR. And everyone wants to shoot that!

    Anyway, we’d been there a bit, and he was loading up a magazine, when an older gentleman walked past us on his way to the 200 yard bay. He said to my son “Do you know who the most important person at this range is?” My son did what all 10 year olds do when a stranger asks them a question: he stood there with a blank look on his face and finally shrugged his shoulders. The old guy says “You are! You are a future shooter! And you are the most important person on this range today!” Then he thanked me for bringing him to the range, and went on his way.

    Here’s my point: if you want your children to be safe with guns then you have to raise them to be safe with guns. There is no program that you can enroll your child in that will excuse you from that job. There is no law that will excuse you from that job. There is no technology that will make it so you do not have to do that job. It is your job. Period.

    I am not the greatest dad in the world, but I am happy to say that raising my children to respect firearms is something I have done. And I think I have done it well. No finger print reader required.

    I carry most of the time, and my 4 year old will sometimes mention it or ask me questions.  It’s a pretty difficult topic with someone that young, but I try to emphasize the extreme danger that they pose and the importance of responsibility…  we also watch Batman cartoons together, and talk about good guys vs. bad guys.

    Where I’m of a double mind is whether to let him shoot people with nerf guns.  Seems important to drill the “never point a gun at people you aren’t prepared to kill” mantra, but I also want them to distinguish between real and pretend.

    • #15
  16. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:
    This piece from Reason
    is a good primer on the lack of a market for “smart-guns,” and covers both the technical challenges in making them and — more interestingly — the lack of demand for them. Is this because gun owners are callous, child-hating fanatics? No: it’s just that firearms don’t kill that many kids.

    I’m pro 2nd amendment and I believe that guns actually make a society safer, but I don’t get why not have a smart gun feature.  I’m an engineer, and if you can build in safety without significantly increasing the cost, then there should be a benefit.  Even if it’s not a substantial cost benefit, it’s political benefit that would silence some of the criticism.  What’s the cost of a smart gun feature?  It can’t be much.

    • #16
  17. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    RyanM: Where I’m of a double mind is whether to let him shoot people with nerf guns. Seems important to drill the “never point a gun at people you aren’t prepared to kill” mantra, but I also want them to distinguish between real and pretend.

    Speaking from experience, I think that is probably hard at 4, but the older he gets, the easier it becomes.  They figure out the difference.  The left would have us believe that kids don’t know the difference.  But they do.

    • #17
  18. David Sussman Podcaster
    David Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    • #18
  19. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    We should note that there is still a useful market for smart guns, as something to the order of a third of all police officers who are shot are shot with their own weapon.

    One core problem is there may never be an effective and reliable smart gun.  All current methods have huge vulnerabilities and failure points.

    Finger prints are unreliable not because finger print readers suck, but because outside forces alter our finger prints throughout the day.  taking a shower, washing dishes, and basically any other activity that puts hot water on your hands leaves your fingers unreadable for several minutes.  Hopefully you aren’t attacked in those windows of time.  Hopefully you don’t require a bandage over any cuts on your thumb.

    RFid methods will be more reliable, but have the extremely obvious flaw of broadcasting an RF signal.  At minimum, this allows a criminal the potential to scan an area for people carrying guns.  Eventually, someone will figure out how to jam such signals, causing every smart gun in certain radius to fail.  Police will approach these smart guns with trepidation if the potential exists for them to arrive at an active shooter incident only to have their guns simultaneously fail.

    Markets exist.  They aren’t huge, but they exist.  Technology has to make a quantum leap before the guns are worth buying.

    • #19
  20. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Frank Soto:We should note that there is still a useful market for smart guns, as something to the order of a third of all police officers who are shot are shot with their own weapon.

    One core problem is there may never be an effective and reliable smart gun. All current methods have huge vulnerabilities and failure points.

    Finger prints are unreliable not because finger print readers suck, but because outside forces alter our finger prints throughout the day. taking a shower, washing dishes, and basically any other activity that puts hot water on your hands leaves your fingers unreadable for several minutes. Hopefully you aren’t attacked in those windows of time. Hopefully you don’t require a bandage over any cuts on your thumb.

    RFid methods will be more reliable, but have the extremely obvious flaw of broadcasting an RF signal. At minimum, this allows a criminal the potential to scan an area for people carrying guns. Eventually, someone will figure out how to jam such signals, causing every smart gun in certain radius to fail. Police will approach these smart guns with trepidation if the potential exists for them to arrive at an active shooter incident only to have their guns simultaneously fail.

    Markets exist. They aren’t huge, but they exist. Technology has to make a quantum leap before the guns are worth buying.

    Didn’t I already say all that?  Come on Frank.  Read the comments!

    • #20
  21. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    I’ve been treed by Moose and once after skinning up hill to get to deep powder, had to hightail it back in total fright.    I had a little island I’d walk to on the Snake that will forever be called Moose chase island.

    • #21
  22. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    And watch out for moose.

    Idea for a movie: A biologist conducts experiments in reviving wildlife after death. His first major success goes mad and a killing spree ensues. Title: Frankenmoose.

    • #22
  23. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Tom,

    Again the propaganda of the left is always to go for the visceral first impression but not the reasoned second look. None of the recent mass shootings would have been stopped by any of the proposed changes in gun laws. There is only one regulatory approach that I can think of that would be relevant. People may be held liable for allowing unauthorized access to their guns. I think that this would have affected some of the shootings as the parents might have thought differently about allowing the children free unsupervised access.

    Still, even if this were the case I think it should be left to the individual and the free market on how to accomplish the control of the access. If you wanted a gun with a fingerprint locking mechanism then you would pay the additional price and suffer the inconvenience of having one. If you simply acquired a gun safe that would be your solution. Either way, you would know that you were responsible for who got access to your firearm. I think this would have a powerful positive effect and increase respect for gun ownership. I’m sure that most legal gun owners already are responsible in this area but it would then address the outliers.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #23
  24. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    The general argument against these statistics is that while pool and automobile accidents are more likely, guns only have one purpose: to kill things/people. Thus to the Progressive, ignoring pools and cars are okay because the normal use of these things are not lethal. The potentiality is there, but not the assurance. Guns are supposed to be lethal. Thus they feel righteous in trying to control or outright ban them.

    • #24
  25. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Spin:

    Frank Soto:We should note that there is still a useful market for smart guns, as something to the order of a third of all police officers who are shot are shot with their own weapon.

    One core problem is there may never be an effective and reliable smart gun. All current methods have huge vulnerabilities and failure points.

    Finger prints are unreliable not because finger print readers suck, but because outside forces alter our finger prints throughout the day. taking a shower, washing dishes, and basically any other activity that puts hot water on your hands leaves your fingers unreadable for several minutes. Hopefully you aren’t attacked in those windows of time. Hopefully you don’t require a bandage over any cuts on your thumb.

    RFid methods will be more reliable, but have the extremely obvious flaw of broadcasting an RF signal. At minimum, this allows a criminal the potential to scan an area for people carrying guns. Eventually, someone will figure out how to jam such signals, causing every smart gun in certain radius to fail. Police will approach these smart guns with trepidation if the potential exists for them to arrive at an active shooter incident only to have their guns simultaneously fail.

    Markets exist. They aren’t huge, but they exist. Technology has to make a quantum leap before the guns are worth buying.

    Didn’t I already say all that? Come on Frank. Read the comments!

    Even yours?

    • #25
  26. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    My pool has a combination lock.

    My safe has one, too.

    Both are ready to use once opened.

    • #26
  27. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    C. U. Douglas:The general argument against these statistics is that while pool and automobile accidents are more likely, guns only have one purpose: to kill things/people. Thus to the Progressive, ignoring pools and cars are okay because the normal use of these things are not lethal. The potentiality is there, but not the assurance. Guns are supposed to be lethal. Thus they feel righteous in trying to control or outright ban them.

    Like I said: sharks and moose.

    • #27
  28. danok1 Member
    danok1
    @danok1

    James Gawron: There is only one regulatory approach that I can think of that would be relevant. People may be held liable for allowing unauthorized access to their guns.

    Jim, are you thinking of something along these lines:

    NC General Statute 14-315.1: Storage of firearms to protect minors

    (a) Any person who resides in the same premises as a minor, owns or possesses a firearm, and stores or leaves the firearm (i) in a condition that the firearm can be discharged and (ii) in a manner that the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised minor would be able to gain access to the firearm, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if a minor gains access to the firearm without the lawful permission of the minor’s parents or a person having charge of the minor and the minor:

    1. Possesses it in violation of G.S. 14-269.2(b);
    2. Exhibits it in a public place in a careless, angry, or threatening manner;
    3. Causes personal injury or death with it not in self defense; or
    4. Uses it in the commission of a crime.

    Or were you thinking civil liability?

    -Dan

    • #28
  29. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: And watch out for moose.

    And squirrel.  Don’t forget the squirrel.

    • #29
  30. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    danok1:

    James Gawron: There is only one regulatory approach that I can think of that would be relevant. People may be held liable for allowing unauthorized access to their guns.

    Jim, are you thinking of something along these lines:

    NC General Statute 14-315.1: Storage of firearms to protect minors

    (a) Any person who resides in the same premises as a minor, owns or possesses a firearm, and stores or leaves the firearm (i) in a condition that the firearm can be discharged and (ii) in a manner that the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised minor would be able to gain access to the firearm, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if a minor gains access to the firearm without the lawful permission of the minor’s parents or a person having charge of the minor and the minor:

    1. Possesses it in violation of G.S. 14-269.2(b);
    2. Exhibits it in a public place in a careless, angry, or threatening manner;
    3. Causes personal injury or death with it not in self defense; or
    4. Uses it in the commission of a crime.

    Or were you thinking civil liability?

    -Dan

    I’m pretty sure that our general tort laws would cover negligent access to firearms.  As for things like theft, I’d be pretty hesitant to expand the liabilities (e.g. your home gets busted into and a firearm stolen, burglar shoots police officer – or anyone – in a crime later that night).  Expanding liability is a pretty dangerous thing.

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.