Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 35 – No 07 – July 2016
MC: In recent years, children have been involved in accidental shootings, but there have been fewer than 10 per year. More kids die from drowning in a 5-gallon bucket than they do from an accidental discharge at home. Most accidental discharges occur with men who have long histories of violent crime, alcoholism, and suspended or revoked driver’s licenses. Would I use a weapon if I had access to one? The question for me is not if I have a weapon but how many.
KK: OK, let’s give Andrew a chance to respond.
AF: The Washington Post noted that there were 43 toddler shootings in 2015. The rate has increased to about one a week now. In 2015, 13 toddlers accidentally killed themselves with a firearm. Most of the time, they shoot themselves, but they also shoot others, usually other members of the family. It’s a major public health issue that there are guns that toddlers have access to.
One study noted the allure of handguns. There were 29 groups of boys age 8 through 12. The boys were left alone for 15 minutes in a room containing two water pistols and a modified .38 caliber handgun in different drawers and were observed via one-way mirror. Three quarters of those that found the gun handled it, half pulled the trigger, half thought it was a toy or were unsure if it was real, even though 90 percent had gun safety training.
MC: Can I ask you, though, who’s going to do that at home? What right-minded individual is going to leave a gun at home for a kid to play with?
KK: If you had one wish that you could accomplish regarding this issue, what would it be?
MC: I feel that the majority, if not 100 percent, of the injuries are caused by people who are mentally ill and need treatment. It is my wish that we live in a nation where people who are suffering from mental illness would have access to and receive treatment for their illness.
AF: My wish would be to take the issue seriously, take the politics out of it, and for us to truly treat this as the public health epidemic that it is. Incidences like Sandy Hook should never happen again in our country.
Gun violence was again at the forefront of the news in June, with the June 12 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando where 50 people, including the shooter, died, making it the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in American history. ACEP Now asked Dr. Fenton and Dr. Coppola for their thoughts.