• Sat, Dec 8 2012

4-Year-Old Shoots And Kills His 2-Year-Old Brother, And I Can’t Believe We Still Don’t Think Stricter Gun Control Is Necessary

It may seem kind of redundant that I am blaming lax gun control laws on the death of another child. Well, it is redundant. Another child is dead because his parents were too stupid to keep a loaded gun out of his reach. As evidenced by yet another tragic story, too many people are too stupid to own guns.

A 4-year-old accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old brother while playing with his father’s loaded handgun. The parents were home at the time. The children were playing in the parent’s room, where the loaded gun was apparently stored in such a manner that a 4-year-old could find it. The couple’s 1-year-old son was also home, but their 5-year-old was at school. These people kept a loaded gun in a house with four children under the age of 5-years-old. Unbelievable.

The father told police he bought the gun for “personal protection.” From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Paramedics tried to revive Neegnco, but he died in an ambulance at the scene, said Minneapolis police Sgt. William Palmer, who called the shooting “a horrible accident” and a reminder to safely and properly store firearms.

“The Minneapolis Police Department wants to remind everyone who has a firearm in their home that it is their responsibility to lock up firearms to prevent tragic accidents from occurring.”

Yes, it is a “horrible accident.” But how long can we continue to label these deaths as “accidents,” when so many happen every year? More than 500 kids die annually from accidental gunshots. U.S. census data from 2010 shows 40-45% of American households contain at least one gun. How many of these households have children in them? How many of these gun owners are savvy enough to lock their loaded weapons away, out of the reach of their children? Apparently, not enough.

In this particular case, the victim’s uncle had a permit for the gun and he and his brother (the child’s father) had attended gun safety classes. That still wasn’t enough to stop this man from storing a loaded gun in a home with four young children, who apparently had grown used to playing with toy guns:

Neighbor Ifra Ali described the parents as “a good mom and dad” and the family as “good neighbors.”

She did recall seeing the youngsters play with “fake guns” in the back yard. “I didn’t realize they had a real gun in the house,” she said. “It surprises me.”

Yash Xiong said his brother had bought plastic guns for his children to play with at a dollar store.

Another neighbor, Donny Nguyen, said he would often see the boys in the nearby playground chasing one another around with plastic guns and knives. One time, his mother said she saw one of the boys wielding what looked like a small kitchen knife.

Are guns tools for protection, or “toys?” If you decide to keep one in your home around your children – you better decide. This child is dead because of his own parents’ negligence. That is awful. How many more of these stories do we have to read, until we believe that whatever we are doing in this country to control accidental gun violence is not working. 

(photo: alexmillos/ Shutterstock.com)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • Blooming_Babies

    I actually am for more gun control but no amount of gun control would have stopped this, this is the uncontrollable human element. I also find it kind of humorous that this article runs right next to one about how the nap nanny doesn’t kill babies parents who refuse to follow simple and obvious safety instructions do. Anyone want to explain the difference?

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

      You’re definitely right about the uncontrollable human element. I would say the difference is – a lot more deaths.

    • Blooming_Babies

      Yes really the difference is that guns are inherently dangerous and the nap nanny is not. Even with widely reported stories and clear danger people still leave guns where children can get them. How to create a shift in attitude that forces gun safety to become a major priority for every gun owner… That’s the question.

    • chickadee

      You can’t casually kill someone with the Nap Nanny…it’s pretty hard for a 4-year-old to point a soft sleeping cushion at his sibling and cause a huge tragedy.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/QNJWDOLC4LZ6OR7DD6VY5FBTWM Tanya

      THey can if they smush it against their siblings face.

    • chickadee

      And the child can move or run or shove it away and does not die. It’s a very poor comparison.

    • Blooming_Babies

      My point was not to compare the danger of a nap nanny to the danger of a gun, my point was to compare the attitude of people after the incident. If a baby is killed by a parent misusing the nap nanny it’s the parents fault but if a child is killed by lax gun safety it’s a lack of gun laws? In both cases it’s the parents fault.

    • chickadee

      It’s not an accurate comparison, which is what I was trying to demonstrate. Neither a car nor a Nap Nanny (or bumped pads or toys) is in itself a lethal weapon, so the parents whose children die because the parents misuse the item are specifically at fault. Most certainly the parents are at fault for not securing the gun. No question. But can you see that there is a difference between a wrongly-used sleeping tool whose misuse COULD harm a child and a gun, whose entire design is to be fatal?

  • Martin

    Guns for protection is nessesary in this world we live in. Proper gun control is keeping your guns un-accessible to unauthorised people such as children. The gun owner in this tragedy should have trained his family and established rules and danger awareness. Just like having fireplaces, swimming pools, and crossing the street, you should always teach children the dangers about them. Parents should always train their children what to do if they ever manage to find an actual firearm,anywhere. I feel very sorry for their tragedy. I protect my family by training them about guns to relieve their curiosity and raise awareness and also keep my guns locked away so that my kid cannot hurt himself or others.

    • chickadee

      I am not entirely sure that handguns are necessary for protection. In fact, I would like to see any statistic at all that proves that handguns function well as personal protection for the average American instead of as ways to accidentally kill your son (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/09/us-usa-pennsylvania-shooting-idUSBRE8B800S20121209) or someone else.

    • Hap

      All you have to do is be willing to spend the time and search online for stories that show you, just how often someone has saved his or her life by having a gun. I did this very thing myself, before I bought my shotgun, because I too was unsure about the whole gun issue. It was after I did this research that I realized just how wise having guns really is. I found endless examples. Most of the time, the person didn’t even have to fire the gun; just having it was a successful deterrent. I was focused on the need for shotguns in particular. When I did this research, I found 98 stories about someone who had to pull a shotgun in their homes in response to an intruder. In all but two of those cases, simply chambering the shotgun shells (that “click-click” sound shotguns are famous for making) was enough to run off the intruders; only a seriously addled drug addict or idiot would face a shotgun. Sadly two of the intruders were such, and had to be shot. I found many similar stories about handguns as well. This is something you have to do for yourself though; and I would recommend doing it. The news media absolutely does not report instances where guns have helped people at nearly the same percentage that they report on incidents where a gun accident occurred. Chickadee, I really encourage you to at least consider adding a shotgun to your home; it’s something that should be in every home, and you should keep it in some safe way where you can get right at it from your bed. Please do at least try to find some time for this research.

    • chickadee

      Please reread my comment. I said handguns. We do in fact own two shotguns (and you should be careful not to make such assumptions when you post).

    • AlbinoWino

      http://ohhshoot.blogspot.com/ And here’s an entire site devoted to accidental shootings. But I know how you like to conveniently ignore those facts.

    • chickadee

      That site depresses me. So much stupidity in one place….

    • AlbinoWino

      And here’s one just about accidental shooting involving children to warm your heart: http://kidshootings.blogspot.com/

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/QNJWDOLC4LZ6OR7DD6VY5FBTWM Tanya

      You know back in the day, when we NEEDED guns, ya know, to feed our families. Children were taught about guns, and even how to use them, and we survived to the point we are now.
      You say you don’t need guns to protect yourself? Try telling a would have been rape victim who shot or even pulled out her gun and scared him off that she didn’t need it. Stop living in a bubble and accept that not all people are nice. Murderers and gangsters aren’t going to respect gun control laws, WE DON’T NEED MORE GUN CONTROL. We need more smart people.

    • chickadee

      I said ‘handguns’ for a reason, since they exist for no other reason but to shoot humans and because they can look like toys and are easier for children to pick up and use. We have 2 shotguns, which are kept unloaded, hidden, and separate from the ammunition.

      I would be interested in seeing actual police report stats about the usefulness of handguns as personal protection. The police officers I know (5) all wish that handguns were not legal.

    • AlbinoWino

      People who don’t own firearms aren’t convinced that murderers are nice. Perhaps they live in the reality of not wanting a tool that is expressly used to badly injure or kill another human being. We have totally different weapons now. Are you going to try to argue to me that a family in a city with a semi-automatic handgun just uses it to feed their family like a family on the prairie 150 years ago? Hmm…guess you didn’t think that one through very well.

    • pnutbrittle

      Looks like the NRA sent non-mommyish readers to this article to defend the right to bear arms. Transparent and pathetic.

    • Mainer

      No, some of us are just not consistent commenters and come to this site to read what piques our interest.

  • mngirl

    I really wish you had not labeled these parents “stupid.” They’ve suffered a terrible loss.

    “Othering” them only makes the rest of us feel that this wouldn’t happen to us. The truth is, we need better gun laws because we are all fallible, we all make mistakes, and no one should pay with their lives for those mistakes

    Having said that I should add that I really enjoy your blog most of the time and appreciate your thoughtful posts.

    • Hap

      You can’t legislate away stupid either, though. And the reality is, Life is a state of vulnerability and you cannot legislate immortality into being by attempting to ban every single thing. I truly believe that if one claims that guns should be banned, then those same people should be far more adamant and worked up about banning automobiles, which are frequently used in a careless manner that injures and kills a great many children. I simply don’t see the logic here that people are okay with automobiles compared to guns. It’s utterly irrational.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

      You’re totally right. It was callous choice of words that I should have thought more about.

    • chickadee

      No, I think stupid is right on the mark. If the owner and the parent had both taken gun safety classes and still thought it was a good idea to leave a loaded gun unsecured, then they are stupid. And they are certainly suffering, but this is far from being a tragedy with no responsibility. I consider it irresponsible to own small firearms when you have young children, so the blame falls on the parents.

    • mngirl

      Your response is really not what I’m talking about. The question isn’t whose “fault” this is. We don’t know if they are stupid, if they made one tragic and stupid mistake, or really anything else. . .

      Because handguns are so incredibly dangerous, even one mistake can have this terrible result.

    • chickadee

      I think it is about whose fault it is — parental carelessness DIRECTLY led to the death of their son. If there had not been a loaded handgun that the 4-year-old could reach, these parents would not have lost their 2-year-old to a gunshot. It is stupid to leave loaded weapons where small children can get them.

      You said above that ‘”[o]thering” them only makes the rest of us feel that this wouldn’t happen to us.’ Do you know how I know that my children wouldn’t shoot each other in my home? It was by making sure that no loaded guns were within reach of those children while they were at home. It is preventable, and it shouldn’t have happened.

    • mngirl

      I agree that this was preventable. Lots of things are preventable. In a more perfect world this would never have happened.

      I’m just struck that emphasizing the blame of the parents makes it sound as if the problem is all individual. (I don’t know if you mean to do this–that’s just where I often see these arguments being taken.) And I’m saying that we could all be incredibly responsible, be thoughtful, and do our utmost to keep our kids safe, and we would still need laws about some dangerous things. Not ALL dangerous things, but some of the ones where you don’t get a second chance to get it right. Handguns are one of those dangerous things.

      I apologize if my earlier reply came off as antagonistic; I guess I’m also making space for peaceableness this time of year, if not outright compassion.

    • chickadee

      I think that handguns should be more strictly regulated for people who live with children, actually, since it is so easy to misuse them. I am for stricter laws altogether, precisely because of the human error that you mention. I am also pretty angry at parents who victimize their children through their stupidity, whether it’s guns or drunk driving or whatever. Calling those things accidents, though, seems to sidestep the issue of fault and responsibility. Someone who drove drunk with children in the car would get a visit from CPS and might lose their children. Will that happen to these parents?

    • mngirl

      It’s so good to know that mostly we agree. And can even be civil while online! I’m generally speaking uncomfortable with kids being automatically taken away from parents who aren’t typically neglectful or make terrible mistakes–especially in cases where there’s plenty of evidence that this isn’t characteristic of the family and where the problem gets resolved. (And based on local coverage, both of that seems to be the case here.) But THAT might be a comment string for another post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Deranged-Housewife/100001031300359 Deranged Housewife

    I don’t see how more gun legislation is going to help; there are already laws in place that in some cases, like this, don’t work. Because you obviously can’t fix stupid. What a tragedy.

  • Hap

    Well, considering how many children are killed in automobile accidents, I simply cannot believe that we allow people to still drive cars. And considering how many children are killed by drowning in kiddie pools, bathtubs, toilets and buckets, I simply cannot believe that we don’t ban all of those things. And considering how many children are killed by the blankets and pillows on their beds, we should ban blankets and pillows. And considering how many children are killed by electrical appliances and sockets, we should ban electricity. And considering how many children are killed by various things inside of people’s houses, I simply cannot believe that we don’t ban everything and actually ban houses too, since they are obviously hazardous environments to children. You see, this “logic” applied to guns equally applies to anything. Guns save lives. How many times has a mother been home alone with her children, and been able to run off an intruder intending to harm her and her children, because she was armed? You don’t hear these stories on the news often, since the news industry feels that stories where “nothing happened because the person defended herself” are uninteresting to report. But these events happen. There was a news story only a few months ago about a young teenaged girl who was home alone when an attacker broke in. She hid in the closet with the family gun. The attacker attempted to break down the closet door-until she shot through the door and shot him, at which point he took off. Now, if she had not had that gun, you tell me how that story would have ended. How many of the young people abducted from their homes who end up dead would still be alive, if they’d had guns and been taught how to use them? I really don’t mean to be crass about the deaths of children; it’s a horrible, nightmareish thing. But you know what? We are not immortal beings, and total control of our environment to ensure 100% safety is not possible. Guns can be the best tool to ensure our safety. And some of us also have to accept the fact that we personally must bear the responsibility for having done something that led to the death of another, such as our own child, through our carelessness. This isn’t the fault of others, or of miscellaneous objects. We can and should take personal responsibility for the safety and welfare of our families, but that does not mean that we can claim that any possible thing which could harm a child needs to be eliminated. By eliminating guns, you might actually eliminate the one means someone has to save his or her child in certain situations. How do you justify that, then? There are TONS of things which can, and do, harm children, besides guns (which are actually very, very low on the list of things that harm children). I am sure that if a comparison were made, we would find that far more children are killed by their apparel, toys and sports equipment and activities than by guns.

    • AlbinoWino

      The thing that you conveniently forgot to mention is the fact that the express purpose of a handgun is to harm, and usually kill, another human being. All the other things are designed to make life easier and so forth. Comparing those two things is pretty idiotic. Yes, it’s tragic no matter what the circumstances are surrounding a child’s death. I will never own a firearm because it wouldn’t make me feel safer and I would know that it could just as easily be used against me. I wish we didn’t have guns but it’s not something that can easily be undone. I support gun control in the respect that I don’t think civilians should have military grade weapons or clips with tons and tons of bullets. I don’t see how that’s so unreasonable.

  • Mainer

    Gun control is not the issue… parental control is. The parents should have the firearm locked away and unloaded. It shouldn’t be within a toddler’s reach, or any child who is incapable of understanding the respect and responsibility a gun requires. We have a handgun in our house, my daughter is only 6 months old but rest assured she will never have access or accident access to this. And we most certainly will be buying more firearms throughout our lives.

    To categorize these deaths as accidental is most assuredly appropriate as the children using them did not intend to kill. They were merely curious about an item left out and this, heartbreakingly, was the result of the parent’s inability to be responsible.

  • Tinyfaeri

    It isn’t clear from above… how is this not an accident?

    • chickadee

      Possibly because this was a foreseeable incident, or at least predictable. The parent could hardly claim to have no knowledge that children have shot each other in the past using accessible handguns.

    • Tinyfaeri

      As has already been pointed out, the 4 year old did not intend to kill his 2 year old sibling. Though the gun arguably should have been locked up, the parents did not intend to give the gun to their 4 year old, nor did they hand it directly to him and help him aim. Just because it was preventable doesn’t make it less of an accident, less tragic, or more intentional. Almost all accidents are preventable, it doesn’t make them less accidental.

    • chickadee

      To be more specific, then, the incident was an accident but the parents should have foreseen the possibility that a child could get to the gun, particularly since little care was taken to limit access to it. That is careless, not accidental.

    • Tinyfaeri

      Actually we have no idea where they kept it (aside from the glib “apparently where a 4 year old could reach it”), so perhaps we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about the forseeability of the accident. And splitting hairs about semantics is a waste of time after the fact. It was a horrible accident, and I have no doubt that the parents will be trying to find a way to deal with it for the rest of their lives.

    • chickadee

      The newspaper article said that it was kept in a bedroom, to which the children obviously had access. No one wanted the boy shot, but I think that there should be more consequences than to simply say it was an accident and go from there. And in fact the father is being charged, because it is a crime in Minnesota to keep a loaded gun where a child could conceivably have access to it. Technically he pleaded guilty to “negligent storage of a loaded firearm within access of a child,” and will probably do community service.

      I guess I get worked up over the word “accident” because it seems to deflect blame from anyone. I am sure the father is full of self-recrimination, but maybe it will make others think twice about gun safety. But maybe not.

    • Tinyfaeri

      More consequences?! Are you serious? Their consequence is that their 4 year old shot and killed his 2 year old sibling. I don’t know what could possibly be worse for a family or how you could ever just “go from there” afterwards. Everyone, the parents, the 4 year old, their other siblings…everyone has to live with that for the rest of their lives. What else would you like them to go through to satisfy your personal sense of indignation?

      I guess I get worked up about sanctimonious, anonymous people on the internet judging the crap out of a family that has already paid the worst possible price for a lapse in judgement that led to a horrible accident. We all have our buttons.

    • chickadee

      Sorry I sounded sanctimonious. I live in the heart of gun-worshipping country and I get pissed off when people don’t take the proper precautions.

    • Tinyfaeri

      Everyone paid the price here. No one got off consequence free. No one involved will ever live a life free of grief and guilt again, and every last ine of them deserves empathy. Focus on the need to educate people about gun safety and proper storage by all means, but let’s try to remember that the people in the blog post are real people with real feelings who just had their 4 year old son accidently shoot and kill their 2 year old son while they were home.

    • chickadee

      I couldn’t forget that these are real people, since I don’t consider internet stories to exist outside the context of the real world. I certainly sympathize with the father, but I feel much sorrier for the 2 boys. If that’s callous or failing to show the proper feeling for the parents, then so be it. And I also understand the difference between the Mommyish audience and actually speaking to the family.

  • ForTheLulz

    Uhh… these “accidents” are pretty rare. Gun control soliciting moron. I hate editors that don’t deny crappy writers the ability to post this kind of garbage.

  • http://twitter.com/Rubenoff1 Rubenoff

    here is a video of what is happening in society, and ignorant people leave their loaded guns unsecured instead of locked up in syeel lockable gun safe away from chlldren

    Guns sales people must sell the safe along with the gun if the link wont play copy and paste the link into your internet browser

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfUEONoVoA0