I had a revelation today after reading a story about a child who drowned. I already know how much courage it takes to talk about tragic events. It’s always encouraging to see people who are willing to share theirs.
I read a friend’s Facebook post where there was a story about a child who drowned in a swimming pool while his mom was nearby. This tragedy didn’t happen to my friend; she just posted the story because she didn’t realize how fast a child could drown — it’s thirty seconds. The story was appropriately titled, “My son drowned while I was just a few feet away. This is what every parent needs to know.”
Every parent needs to know whatever it takes to prevent an accident. We can’t prevent them all, but as parents we must try. I lost my son to a gun accident. I needed to know more, just like Jon needed to know more to survive that night he died.
That story reminded me of another story I saw on the Today show last month. Hoda was interviewing Bode Miller, the Olympic skier, and another parent, Nicole Hughes. They both had lost a child to a swimming pool drowning. They were the new faces for a public service announcement that warned parents about the dangers of drowning.
It’s summer. Lots of stories about drowning these days. Gun accidents don’t need a season.
I Googled Bode’s story again after reading my friend’s post. Bode’s family, like the mother of Judah, were willing to put their suffering into productive action.
It got me thinking: why have I never seen a public service announcement like those about swimming, but about gun safety? Where are the articles, TV segments, blog posts about unsafe guns with headlines saying, “My son was injured or died when I was just a few feet away. This is what every parent needs to know about gun safety.”
Children find guns daily and accidentally injure or kill themselves or others. Just the other day there was an article about a DPS state trooper in the Houston area whose child accidentally was shot in the stomach. It was the second accident involving an officer’s child in the last six months.
Why is it we never see brave parents come forward like the ones who’ve lost a child to drowning? I want to see parents like that tell their stories, like the parents of the drowned children do. I made a mistake when I didn’t teach everything I could to Jon about guns. What is it about a gun accident that is different from a drowning?
There are similarities. They each had enrolled their children in water babies swimming lessons. They practiced the swimming techniques regularly and were told by experts the child could rescue himself with the approved training. Does this sound familiar? Similar mistakes are made about gun safety. Better education, conducted by peace officers like those troopers, will save more lives.
In the drowning article, the mom asks, “Why didn’t I hear from pediatricians? School? Why wasn’t it in any of many parenting books I always relied on to help guide me?” I ask these same questions about gun safety. There might be devices available soon to prevent drownings like these.
I live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association. There’s more attention paid to the height of our fences around pools than any unsecured gun. The gun community can go to work on this kind of attention and police itself. The NRA could help by hiring ambassadors for safety.
It’s easier than protection against unsafe pools. We don’t get to put a swimming pool into a safe. A simple gun lock, or a decent safe, even a small one, makes gun ownership safer for everybody — even those who don’t own guns. Especially for those people.
The mom talked about how we can’t take babies out of a hospital when they are born unless they are in a properly-placed car seat. We hear all about car seat safety. It’s a part of the new parenting process. I’ve asked the hospitals in my area to include gun safety information in the new parent packages. Too much in that package already, they’ve said.
I say, too many children and young adults like Jon have died because of the negligence of a gun owner. I’ve never seen any PSA that pushes gun safety like the ones for drowning preventions.
I told my story all during this spring to the Texas Legislature, trying to get a law passed for more gun safety education. It’s not easy to tell a story like that, trust me. I know there’s groups of parents out there who have lost a child to unsafe guns. It’s time to speak, so we can save other children from the tragedy we have all experienced.
The stories are compelling and courageous. There’s no silver lining to this kind of tragedy, but being out there and talking about it is making a difference. Bode said he wanted to put his suffering into productive things.
Let’s start that movement. Send me an email at Texas Gun Sense and I’ll help you get started. It’s an easy step in the next evolution of safety.