Gun safety is part of our culture: Opposing view

What has not worked is government mandates, and especially politicization.

Gun owners devote enormous resources to preventing unintentional firearm injuries. We don’t call them “accidents,” which suggests no one is at fault. Instead we say “unintentional” and “negligent,” placing responsibility on the negligent party. Gun safety is part of our culture.

Current training teaches a layered approach to gun safety around kids. Restricting access is only one layer. Avoidance training begins as soon as a child can understand. Eventually, we expand training to our kids’ friends and their parents. This works. Unintentional firearms deaths have been cut in half over the past 20 years, a story that news coverage has missed. Unintentional shootings that don’t happen don’t get covered. The relatively few tragedies make the headlines.

What has not worked is government mandates, and especially politicization.

Responsible gun owners store guns safely. Defining “safely” belongs to the adult closest to the question. “Safe” storage laws tend toward one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t work everywhere.

Questioning parents about guns before allowing children to visit seems well-intentioned but smacks of shaming, unless concerned parents also ask about safe storage of cleaning supplies and medications, pool fencing and car safety. All of those hazards kill far more kids than guns.

“Smart gun” technology sounds most promising to those who know least about guns. Current digital technology does not translate well to the analog environment of a gun, especially a defensive gun. Not to mention the problem of retrofitting the hundreds of millions of guns already in circulation. Mandates such as the one New Jersey legislated to require all guns to be “smart guns” once one such gun reaches the market amount to backdoor gun bans.

Public service announcements can be effective — if they are not political.

Nobody is more concerned about kids and gun safety than responsible gun owners. Let’s work together — without political posturing — to build on what has worked so far.

Jeff Knox and Chris Knox run The Firearms Coalition, an information and analysis group focused on supporting grassroots advocacy efforts.