Dumb and Dumber

This is a story of a Negligent Discharge that was fairly predictable. Two kids left alone in a house with a gun in it. Exactly what happened isn’t certain, but the 10-year old shot his 9-year-old little brother in the back. Fortunately, both kids will live.

It was dumb for the kids to do that, and dumb for the parents or other adults (they were staying with an aunt) not to teach them about guns.

It’s dumb for the police and prosecutors in St. Louis County, MO, to pursue charges against some adult or other (but they seem to be seeking a way to do that). The whole story’s at St. Louis Today.

Another uncle talks some sense:

The shooter’s great uncle, Joe Jefferson, 41, of Woodson Terrace, said the boys’ aunt had been watching them today but left them alone for about 10 to 15 minutes to run an errand.

Jefferson said he’s relieved the boy will recover but said the shooting is a reminder about children and guns.

“There’s no such thing as a responsible 10-year-old” around guns, he said. “They were playing with the gun in the house and it went off.”

via Boy, 9, wounded when brother, 10, fires shot in their Jennings home.

No, it’s not child abuse to leave kids alone for a few minutes. God help the family if this gets in the hands of a prosecutor who’s an insecure single mother (is there any other kind?) who helicopters her own kids — doubly so because the family are black and the prosecutor will probably be white and quietly contemptuous of “those people”.

Yes, a shooting like this is a product of ignorance on several levels. But the answer to ignorance is education, not punishment. Or if not education, why not ridicule? (Which, we’ll admit, often tempts us with ND stories).

It is child abuse to throw a mother or caretaking aunt in jail over an accident like this, and dump the kids into the uncaring hell of a child-services bureaucracy, rather than use this as an opportunity to get an educational message out.

It is abuse not only of children but of all citizens to send out a message that, instead of teaching people how to live safely with guns, treats guns as some kind of talismantic contraband. That just ensures that kids will play with them when (not if) they find them.