Friday, November 9, 2012

Man tried to "demystify" guns for his children, but his 3-year old son killed 6-year old daughter

(This is a cross-post with a posting at Kid Shootings blog)

Back in March, we reported on a shooting in Marysville, Washington, where a 3-year old boy was able to get out of his car seat, climb into the front seat, and access his father's loaded .38-caliber revolver while his parents were out of the family van.  The boy then shot his 7-year old sister, Jenna Carlile, in the abdomen, killing her.

The father, a gun owner and conceal carry permit holder, Derek Carlile, is now on trial.  

A police officer, Derek had thought himself "a stickler for safety" by locking his guns in a safe and "demystifying" guns to his kids by buying them toy guns, shooting BB guns with them, and teaching them how guns work.  The faulty logic here is that by "demystifying" guns to children through frequent exposure, it will keep them from being curious and handling the guns inappropriately.

It's an excuse I've heard many, many times from the gun guys when I extol the virtues and statistically-safer value of locking up guns around children or not having guns at all around them.  Though locking guns is important, it is better not to have guns around children at all.  Even the best-behaved children, including his son, are naturally curious and impetuous, with fatal consequences.

Statistics show that children are often able to access guns, despite the best training and strategies employed by their parents.

From an article:
The shooting of 7-year-old Jenna Carlile was a tragedy, but also a foreseeable consequence of the Camano Island man leaving his loaded .38-caliber revolver in the van's cup holder, deputy prosecutor Lisa Paul said. 
Evidence will show the off-duty officer made a series of unsafe choices March 10 in handling the weapon and as a result placed his children at risk, Paul told jurors.
Carlile accepts fault for his role in the shooting and "it's something he wishes he could change, but he can't," Seattle defense attorney David Allen said. 
Still, he urged jurors to keep an open mind and let the evidence guide their decision.
"This was a terrible, tragic accident but it wasn't a crime," Allen said. 
Carlile has worked as a patrol officer in Marysville for about three years. Allen described him as a stickler for gun safety, and somebody who has made a habit of locking up his firearms in a 600-pound safe at his home when he isn't carrying them for his job.
In keeping with his training, the officer had taken steps to "demystify" firearms for his children, teaching them how they work as part of a strategy aimed at encouraging safety, Allen said.
Testimony will show that Carlile provided his son with toy guns and on at least one occasion helped his 3-year-old shoot a BB gun, Paul said.
The boy was fascinated with his father's firearms, and at times would try to get into the safe in an attempt to play with them, she said.
Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult.