Justin Peters at Salon shatters the myth of “accidental gun deaths.”
On Wednesday, a two-year-old Texas boy named Trenton Mathis accidentally shot and killed himself with a handgun he found sitting on his great-grandfather’s nightstand. According to the website of KLTV, Mathis had gone into his great-grandparents’ bedroom in search of chewing gum. Instead, he found a loaded 9 mm handgun, which he used to shoot himself in the face. Mathis was pronounced dead at a Tyler, Texas hospital. He would have turned three years old in July.
Trenton Mathis didn’t have to die. His senseless death is a direct result of this country’s baffling indifference toward the basic principles of gun safety. As I’ve written before, “accidental” child shooting deaths are almost never truly accidental. They happen because parents and guardians keep their guns loaded and unattended in unsecured locations where children can easily get to them.
As David Frum commented, people tend to over-estimate their own competence. Combine that with what I consider the peculiarly American trait of over-estimating external threats and you have the senseless deaths of children. How many home invasions are prevented because of the presence of a gun? And how many friends and family members are killed because there was a gun in the home? This is not a question America is prepared to ask.