On Wednesday January 20, nine-year-old Nyssa Davis was shot and killed at her home in North Philadelphia shortly after walking away from her virtual classroom. Nyssa was one of several children in the home, unsupervised by an adult, when she was shot in the head with a handgun that was unsecured. Her death disturbingly follows a nationwide trend of juveniles falling victim to gun violence. According to Gun Violence Archive, an independent data collecting research group, in 2020 there were 987 children under the age of 17 that were killed by gun violence and another 2,824 that sustained injuries. Of the fatalities, 209 were children between 0-11 years old with 486 sustaining gunshot injuries. Many of them will be physically affected the rest of their life while all of them will be mentally and emotionally effected by the trauma.
This article is not written to argue about the second amendment and our right to bear arms or defend our homes. It is not about the proliferation of gun purchases and the relative ease in which they can be acquired both legally and illegally. I it not about how black and brown communities throughout the nation are being ravaged everyday with shootings that leave them living in a state of terror. These are topics that can and should be discussed and argued at greater levels within our local and state governments as well as publicly with the community.
No, this is simply a plea, that adults with guns in the home use every precautionary measure to keep everyone, especially children, safe. Access should be limited to the adults in the home and only those that can be trusted with its handling and storage. We are all curious by nature, we are born that way. Children by virtue of their inexperience in life are more curious than adults and a simple “no” or “do not touch” will not always work. So as parents the steps must be taken to ensure their compliance and to deny them access if they do go in search of the gun.
Unloading your gun and keeping the rounds stored separately and safely away from the gun is at the very minimum, the first step that should be taken. A gun lock should also be used, properly inserted with the key or combination available to only the owner. Securing the gun does not simply mean “hiding”, children are adept at finding things that are meant to be hidden from them. To best secure your guns from children a safe should be purchased and again the combination or key should be made available to only the responsible adults in the home. There are versions that can be securely mounted inside the wall and prevent a thief from walking away with the whole safe.
In 2020 the Firearm Industry Trade Association reported that 40% of gun sales were by first time buyers equaling close to five million new gun owners. Without the proper training and gun safety practices, many of these guns stay loaded and within arm’s reach of unauthorized users. Users that may use it maliciously, to commit suicide, or accidently discharge and injure someone. In order to prevent future Nyssa Davis’s responsible gun owners must follow the steps to keep everyone in their home safe.
GVA (2021) Gun Violence Archive, from: https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/
NSSF (August 2020) First-time gun buyers grow to nearly 5 million in 2020. The Firearm Trade Association.