Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fact Based Policy, Not Emotion Based Policy

On April 20, 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 4 year old Luke Daniels accidentally shot and killed himself. In short order, Democratic state Representative Gail Chasey was calling for tougher gun laws. The accidental death of anyone is tragic but the death of an four year old child is horrific. The heartache the family is going through is unimaginable. However, for an politician to use an emotional event like this to disparage firearms and their owners is imprudent. It's important to look at facts before attempting to use this incident to push an agenda. Reports say that Luke's father is a law enforcement officer. Therefore we can conclude he is trained to use, safely handle and safely store firearms. There are no reports that suggest this is anything more than a horrible accident. Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that from 1999 to 2006 there were 2 accidental deaths of children aged 1 to 4 related to firearms in New Mexico, 0.19 deaths per 100,000. For the same time period there were 29 deaths of children aged 1 to 4 related to drowning, 2.69 per 100,000. For the same time period there were a total of 169 accidental deaths, 15.65 per 100,000. When there are 167 accidental deaths not related to firearms it seems derisory to focus on the 2 accidental deaths related to firearms.

Let's assume that we hurriedly passed a law that says a firearm must be locked. What then do we do when a child accidentally kill themselves with a kitchen knife? Do we pass another law requiring knives to be locked up? Then a child accidentally dies from ingesting prescription medicine. Another law? On and on. With the plethora of laws already in existence, it's hard for me to believe that there isn't something that would apply if any charges should be filed in this incident. As I mentioned above, there were 29 accidental drownings of children aged 1 to 4. Were any of the parents of these children charged with anything? I'm fairly sure there is no charge of “failure to lock up the swimming pool” or “failure to lock up the bathtub faucet.” If there were charges in these drownings, couldn't those same charges apply here if charges are warranted? Accidents happen in this world and though we do our best to prevent them, they will continue to happen. If there was intent or negligence then charges are probably warranted. If it was truly an accident, and that's how it seems to me, then no charges should be filed.

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