Fuck the NRA
Today I woke up to news about 3 year old Holston Cole, of Dallas, GA. Holston is adorable. Or I should say, was adorable. You see, Holston died yesterday, after finding a loaded gun in his home. 3 year olds just don’t have a great track record for doing the right thing when either they or the gun are unattended.
And it’s so sad, isn’t it? It is described by media, law enforcement, neighbors, and random Facebook commenters as “an unbelievable tragedy” a “tragic accident” a “horrible mistake” or (maybe the worst of all) “God’s plan”. That last one grinds my gears the most. God’s plan was for Holston to live a long, happy, beautiful life. Maybe get married and have a few kids. Maybe a few grandkids. That’s always God’s plan. Negligence has a way of short-circuiting things, though, doesn’t it?
So what does Holston’s death have to do with the NRA, you ask?
The National Rifle Association, who for over a century were the premier gun safety and shooting sports organization, quite simply give zero fucks about Holston Cole. Or Brooklynn Mohler. Or Nicholas Naumkin. Or Corbin Wiederholt, MaKayla Dyer, or Sebastian Swartz. Or any of the hundreds of kids who will were “ACCIDENTALLY” shot dead or maimed by gunshots last year, and will be this year, and the next and the next.
Let’s pause here at “ACCIDENTALLY” — the most commonly used descriptor for these kid shooting incidents.
adjective: happening by chance or accident; not planned; unexpected:
A 3 year old finding a loaded gun and shooting it — at himself, at another person, or at the stuffed dinosaur in the corner of the room is not an accident. It is the 100% predictable response one should absolutely expect 100% of the time. The same rule applies when a 9 year old does it. When a tween or teen does it — surprise! — you still have no right to claim it was “not planned” or “unexpected”. So let’s call them what they are: UNINTENTIONAL. NEGLIGENT. CRIMINALLY RECKLESS.
And here we sit, reading about the next Holston or Corbin or Brooklynn EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. while the organization best-positioned to make a dramatic, measurable reduction of these deaths spends their resources discounting them, lobbying against laws that would hold gun owners responsible, and pushing the dangerous idea that all we have to do to keep our kids safe in the presence of guns is show them a cartoon eagle with 4 simple rules and our job is done.
Here’s a short paraphrase of some of the NRA’s top spokespeople’s comments, delivered at state houses all over the country, on their various social media platforms, and by Chief Bullshitter in Charge Wayne LaPierre as they fight against laws that would hold gun owners responsible for unintentional gun deaths and injuries to children who get a hold of their guns:
“Other things kill kids too, ya know. Like bleach.”
“If I lock my gun up I won’t be able to defend my family when the home invaders break in.”
“If we teach our kids not to touch our guns, they will not touch our guns. Easy peasy. Just like Eddie Eagle says.”
So NRA logic, in a nutshell, is: Child shootings are not a problem. But if they *were* a problem (which, we repeat, they are not), that kind of collateral damage simply must be accepted, because the Second Amendment says you cannot make us lock up our guns and that is precisely what the Founders intended. Lastly, even though these incidents are undeserving of our attention, we created this handy cartoon program featuring an eagle who will teach kids all they need to know about being safe around guns.
So yeah, I’ll repeat: Fuck the NRA.
Fuck the Tennessee Firearms association, who last month killed a bill proposing penalties for negligent firearms storage arguing: “that a better approach might be to propose legislation that would require that all schools in the state teach firearms awareness and safety programs that were designed to teach children and young adults about the proper role that firearms hold in this nation and how to safely and responsibly act around firearms.”
Fuck Alice Tripp, the Texas State Rifle Association’s legislative director, who chuckled when asked whether parents should inquire about guns in homes their kids visit. “How do you handle your bug spray or a sharp, pointy knife?”(Dear Alice, I am a responsible knife and bug spray owner. I handle those objects like any other responsible parent would — by not leaving them on the coffee table or under my bed where the kids can find them. I didn’t show them an animated cartoon about Derek the DEET Buster or Nicky the Knife Gnome, if you catch my drift.)
“There is no such thing as an accidental shooting when it involves a child shooting him- or herself or another person with a carelessly stored gun: it’s an unintentional shooting due to an adult gun owners’ negligence.” ~ Shannon Watts, Founder, Moms Demand Action
“I’m not saying the Eddie Eagle program doesn’t work. I’m saying that to use a totally non-validated safety program as an excuse for opposing CAP laws is shabby at best, harmful and unsafe at worst.” ~Mike Weisser, “The Gun Guy”
Shannon Watts is right. Mike Weisser is right. Harvard public health experts, the American Academy of Pediatrics and every actual gun owner I know — including my husband and I — are right when we say a loaded gun has no business being accessible to children. Ever. We’re also right when we say there should be criminal penalties involved for those who do. Without those laws, the Eddie Eagle initiative is simply one hand (or wing) clapping, to use a terrible metaphor.
To the empaths out there who will say “But the family who lost their child is grieving enough!” Answer this: “What if, as luck would have it, the child who got that gun didn’t point it at himself and pull the trigger? What if instead, he pointed it at YOUR child, who happened to be visiting that day?”
Tell me again how the parents’ sadness would be punishment enough? Yeah I didn’t think so.
And to you, NRA — if you will never get behind solid CAP laws (with teeth), you owe the American public a rewrite of Eddie Eagle’s instructions. To wit:
TELL AN ADULT! JUST NOT THE IDIOT ADULT WHO LEFT THE LOADED GUN LYING AROUND IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Thanks for reading. And here’s a good source for near-real time reporting of the “ACCIDENTAL” shootings that are killing our kids: Gun Violence Archive Accidental Deaths