With this blog post I am going to deal with the 20/20 special aired on 1/31/14 entitled “Young Guns”. As defenders of the 2nd Amendment, we must be prepared to articulately refute these sorts of hatchet jobs with sound logic and reasoning. I am going to specifically focus on the flawed “experiments” that 20/20 conducted in relation to kids gaining access to firearms as they are what I found most comical and will probably be the most cited portions of the program.
As I am not a statistician, I refer you to this great article by The Blaze that details the statistical misrepresentations that are used throughout the program. Based on any number of reports, no matter how skewed they may be; accidental shooting deaths involving children are extremely rare and are decreasing as gun ownership increases. With that fact as it is, you can see where 20/20 is trying to portray an epidemic that doesn’t exist, which shows through clearly in their laughable attempt at the scientific method.
“Experiment “#1: Guns in a classroom:
The premise of this experiment is that kids who are told “not to touch” guns are still very likely to be overcome by curiosity when confronted with the presence of an unsecured gun, which will lead them to “touch” the gun anyway. Little is said about the sample of children other than the fact that all 44 of them have been “taught not to touch guns” and that half of them were exposed to additional safety training from law enforcement including the “Eddie the Eagle” NRA video. I would be interested to know more about how much of the family culture these 44 children live in consists of guns and gun-handling; but that information is left out. If the Francis family and those like them who were chronicled later in the program were included in the experiment, the sample group would be far more interesting to me.
The idea, as presented, that most gun owners are leaving guns lying around unsecure, is overstated from my perspective when I think about the gun owners with children who I know personally. Any parent with even a baseline level of education about gun safety is going to be very adamant about actually securing their firearms as opposed to just hiding them. To secure means to take reasonable steps to prevent access to a readily dischargeable firearm including but not limited to: placing it in a safe or rendering it inoperable with a locking device of some sort. With quick-access safe technology what it is these days, most people who own firearms for home defense are utilizing these safes as part of their home defense plan. I have no doubt that there are still some ignorant gun owners out there who still believe that hiding guns is adequate, but they are few and far between. I would be perfectly willing to bet that if 20/20 went to the homes of the gun owners I know in my community, the anomaly would be finding those who leave guns lying around unsecured. Preventing children from gaining access to guns is something that we as a community take very seriously, and that begins with safe storage. Literally every NRA program I have been exposed to has this as a primary teaching point.
As foolish as it is to hide a gun in general, it would take a special kind of dementia for an individual to hide a gun inside of a child’s play area amongst their toys. However, this is how 20/20 chose to test the premise that childlike curiosity will inevitably lead to children ignoring safety rules and playing with guns anyway. This is where the “experiment” officially leaves the realm of science and enters the universe of staged propaganda. The accidental deaths that occur when children gain access to unsecure guns are not taking place because parents are putting loaded firearms inside toy boxes. When you comingle toys and killing tools in this manner, it makes it far more likely that children will be confused about what is real and what is not. In fact, this is exactly what we see in the dialogue we are shown between the young boys who choose to handle the guns. This is a far different circumstance than being invited by a friend to venture into his dad’s room to check out the gun in the sock drawer; which is usually the type of circumstance that precedes an accidental shooting. This situation was clearly contrived in an effort to skew the results in such a way that it supported the already misguided premise.
Despite the flawed premise and methodology, we were presented with less than profound results. What is interesting to me is how few boys we were actually shown who handled the guns in an unsafe manner that could have resulted in death or serious bodily injury. Of the 18 (out of 30) boys who “touched” the guns; I would be interested to know how many of them actually picked them up and handled them unsafely. There is a big difference between “touching” a gun and “handling a gun unsafely”; with the latter having the potentially deadly consequences. On top of that, the fact that only 9 of 24 children who were exposed to additional gun safety training “touched” the guns shows a pretty good level of success. No responsible gun owner would ever make the claim that proper gun safety education can prevent every single gun accident any more than talks about “stranger danger” can prevent all kidnappings. What it can do, as it obviously did in the “experiment”, is make it less likely. We essentially learned that sometimes kids do what they want (especially when guns are co-mingled with toys) but that with proper reinforcement of rules through education, they will be less likely to act out. It seems to me that the results speak pretty well of safety education efforts by law enforcement and the NRA; even if 20/20 wanted to focus on the failures that they deliberately contrived.
“Experiment”#2: Pink Rifle on the playground
As if the first “experiment” wasn’t contrived enough, this one takes it to a whole different level. We are first made aware of the idea that little girls are attracted to the color pink (who knew?) and that some gun companies have made little pink rifles to cater to this fact. We are then introduced to a playground scene where a couple of brightly colored rifles (one pink) are left lying in plain view of the little girls. We are given an anecdotal note that police “often” find handguns that have been abandoned inside playground areas (I thought we were talking about pink rifles?)
What happens in this ridiculous set of circumstances is that the girls are drawn to the rifles and play with them as if they are toys. Just as in the first experiment, the firearms are deliberately placed in an environment where a child would expect to find toys and are treated as such. The whole thing is other-worldly ridiculous. The parents who are purchasing pink rifles for their daughters are not simply handing them to the children as they head out to play or stashing them inside of play areas amongst other toys. The pink rifles I have seen that friends have purchased for little girls are stored in the same manner as any other firearm and are only used in the context you would expect any other firearm to be used. All of the same safety standards are adhered to whether you are dealing with a pink .22 or a Glock 19.They are not co-mingled with toys because they are not toys.
Even under these ridiculous circumstances, only 8 of 23 girls “touched” the rifles. That’s a pretty low number if you’re trying to sell me, even on this non-issue. Obviously, if a little girl comes upon a loaded pink rifle at the school playground, that would be a bad thing. I would like to see any documentation that exists detailing where anything even close to this has ever happened anywhere. Even if it has, it certainly isn’t something that is even remotely likely to happen. Talk about jumping the shark… Even a dedicated leftist should see through this one. The “professor” they keep citing in this piece needs to go back to school if she thinks that was scientific.
Despite the fact that 20/20 was trying to make an epidemic out of an anomaly; their results were less than convincing even when you take their deliberate staging efforts for granted. The one message that I feel was positive out of the whole program was that we ought to be teaching families who own guns how to properly secure them. The fact that 20/20 isn’t aware that we as gun owners have been doing this for as long as any of us can remember is beyond insulting. Gun safety and safe storage is what the NRA is all about. It is our primary purpose and the first topic in most if not all training classes, especially for new gun owners. The people at ABC must believe or hope that Americans are really stupid. That is the only way that anyone who has ever done even a basic scientific experiment is going to be impressed by this sort of obvious sham. The good thing is: We the People are not stupid, and we aren’t buying it. We are beating these people in spite of this sort of nonsense. So don’t get riled up about it, just be prepared to refute it. Since we are in fact the more educated side of the debate; it’s not a hard thing to do.