Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
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.
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.