Be responsible: Keep firearms locked away
Imagine getting a phone call in the middle of the night telling you that your child is in trouble and you need to get to his friends’ house.
Are you alarmed? Scared? Do you think perhaps they were out playing pranks and got caught by a neighbor? What goes through your mind as you are driving to the house where your child was spending the night?
I’ll tell you, because it happened to me. It was a call that didn’t alarm me, because I assumed the boys were out knocking on doors or toilet papering houses.
They were young boys on Christmas break. What else could it be?
On my way to check, I was texting and calling with no response from either my son or his friend. It wasn’t until we got closer to the house that I realized something was wrong. There were cop cars, an ambulance, fire trucks and caution tape surrounding the house. Those were the things I saw when I jumped out of the truck. Someone asked if I was Noah’s mother. Once I said yes I was given the horrible news.
Noah was shot by his friend at his friend’s house with a gun that was easily accessible as it was on the floor of his room.
Shock immediately entered my body. I screamed so loud that we were told to go to the police station as to not wake the neighbors.
My child had become a statistic.
He was killed by his friend who had unlocked guns in his bedroom. Who allows their child to keep unlocked guns in their room?
Still to this day, I can’t wrap my mind around that. Guilt eats at me night and day. The worse thing that can happen to a mother is to have their child killed in the care of someone else. My child was at the mercy of others who let him and his family down.
As parents, we are supposed to keep our children safe from harm. We put them in a car seat when they are babies, we keep medicine away from them and a seatbelt once they are older. But do we ask about unlocked guns when they are visiting another home?
I didn’t. And my child is dead because of it. It’s simple really. You ask about guns and their storage and then you make the decision on whether or not you feel confident in them going to that house. We ask about dogs if our child is scared. We remind them if our child has a food allergy. We may even ask about pools if our child cannot swim. But for some reason, asking about guns seems to be taboo in this day and age. People get offended and recite the Second Amendment. Do they feel like you are invading their privacy? I’m sorry, but asking about a gun in order to keep a child safe is not a privacy issue. Child death by negligence is far more important than the privacy issue. But, the reality is that most people are lax when it comes to their guns. They become naïve in thinking their child won’t touch it or use it improperly. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Kids do not think long term. They are risky. That is why we are the parents. We are supposed to practice safety in all that we do. Let’s add gun safety to our task as parents.
Talking to children about gun safety is great. Sharing our story to add realness to the concept may help drive home the danger in pointing a gun at another human being. But why leave it there? Why risk it? Why make it easy for a child? Instead of suspending kindergarten children for pointing a finger at his friend while saying “bang,” let’s just put our guns out of the reach of our children. Be responsible. Lock them up.
Ashlyn Melton, Plaquemine