Laws for the Little Guys


By Thomas E. Gift, MD. Dec 1, 2021

In a recent Research Letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association (“Knowledge of State Gun Laws Among US Adults in Gun-Owning Households”) Ali Rowhani-Rahbar MD et al present data regarding knowledge of state firearms laws. Specifically, they assess the knowledge possessed by adults living in “gun-owning households” as to these state laws.

They approach this from the perspective that many such laws are designed to prevent injuries, and that following them would be useful for this reason. Using a self-selecting sample of subjects collected via the Internet, they find that a significant number of individuals living in a gun-owning household are not aware of laws in place, for example, to limit child access.

While there is no doubt considerable truth to the assertion that safety would be enhanced if individuals more carefully limited children’s access to firearms, there’s more to the story.

It’s often said that the law is a blunt instrument, and this certainly is the case regarding children’s access to firearms. Laws of this sort vary by state and locality, and one household can be very different than another. Some, for example are never visited by children, and in other instances the “child” in the family may be 17 years old, working to support the family and an accomplished hunter—does protecting this “child” by limiting access to firearms make sense?

The authors deserve credit for avoiding the politics so frequent these days in medical publications addressing Second Amendment issues. .....

We see from yesterday's Oxford MI School murders just how important firearm security in the home is, (along with gun safety training for juveniles). In this case a 15 year old sophomore managed to gain access to a parent's recently purchased 9mm semi-auto in order to commit deadly harm, which arguably could have been avoided. How much is parental culpability to be measured in such a case?


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