The death of a four-year-old is by definition a tragedy. But the loss of a child to an accidental gunshot wound is especially distressing.
It is not as if there aren’t a hundred examples of teens dying young in a gunslinging American culture on our streets. In Lafayette, it was recently a 15-year-old victim. Others can be catalogued across the state and the nation, and don’t get us started on the juvenile crime situation in greater New Orleans.
Still, the Baton Rouge incident is troubling for what it says about gun safety in homes across the state. The boy was left outside only briefly, his father said, but the car door was open and a handgun was under the seat.
The father now faces negligent homicide charges, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said.
“Children should never have access to a gun and that’s why it is imperative to secure your firearm in your home with a gunlock or inside a gun safe,” Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said afterwards. While City Hall provides gun locks for residents, they have to be used.
Contrast this almost regular crime report in The Advocate | The Times-Picayune with the shock in Japan — a nation of 127 million people, with far fewer guns in circulation than in the United States — when an improvised weapon was used to assassinate a former prime minister during an election campaign stop last week.
We don’t know the answer to the problem in this nation, where there are more guns than people. But doesn’t that make gun safety, and personal responsibility, even more important?