Opinion Published on AZ Central: My 15-year-old son Christian died at a friend’s house – and, yes, his death was preventable. We must do more to restrict kids’ access to guns.

Simply put, a gun’s purpose is to kill.

That is the cold, hard truth that was tragically realized on Sept. 5, 2021, when my 15-year-old son Christian died from an accidental gunshot at a friend’s house.

That is the horrific truth that 20-plus families in Uvalde, Texas, have been forced to learn. That is the brutal truth that more than 40,000 families a year learn firsthand in the United States of America.

This is not an anti-Second Amendment rant.

But as gun deaths are now the leading cause of death in children in the United States, and we have endured 246 mass shootings in the first 22 weeks of 2022 (and counting), it’s time for some real talk and clarity on an issue that adversely affects all of us.

We’re desensitized to gun violence

Austin Davis holds a sign that reads "Protect Children, Not Guns" during a demonstration against gun violence at the corner of Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street in Phoenix on May 28, 2022.

Our society has lost sight of this, as we get caught up in politics rather than reality. We “kill” people with guns in video games every day. We watch movies and TV shows that “kill” people all the time.

America suffers from an illness. We have desensitized and fooled ourselves to the point where we no longer acknowledge that a gun’s purpose is to kill. We play word games and use nuance to muddy the waters.

Reducing gun violence:7 ways to stop this mass shooting madness

Let’s take the politics out of it and try to agree on the following:

  • A gun is designed to kill.
  • Too many Americans die every year due to gun violence.
  • Movies, video games and entertainment glamorize guns without reality or responsibility for the consequences.
  • Politicians use guns as an issue to secure power, raise money and get votes.
  • Commonsense gun laws are not going to take guns away from responsible gun owners.

Too many kids have easy access to guns

Christian Petillo with the family dog, Oliver, in 2021.

A study by the Journal of Urban Health estimates that up to 4.6 million children live in a home where at least one gun is kept loaded and unlocked, and one-third of all U.S. households have a gun.

According to Every Town, in incidents of gunfire on school grounds, up to 80% of shooters under age 18 got the gun from their home or the homes of friends or relatives. Additionally, estimates show about 54% of gun owners do not lock their weapons.

Unfortunately, the majority of states do not have commonsense laws like Ethan’s Law on the books, while 14 states have “negligent storage laws,” which only go into effect after a tragedy occurs (imagine holding drunk drivers accountable only after they caused an accident or killed someone).

We must keep guns locked away from kids

Today, there is a national version of Ethan’s Law sitting in Congress. Regrettably, it sits static, unable to find the same level of bipartisan support to protect our children.

Independently, the Arizona Legislature would act on its own, if lawmakers are seriously committed to reducing the risks of firearms injuries and deaths of our young.

Surely we can find some common ground to protect America’s children from preventable gun deaths. My son Christian was a beautiful soul, but he was also an impetuous teenager (weren’t most of us at that age?).

He had never been through a gun safety class, as we did not perceive a need as we chose not to have guns in our home with children. Is this now a necessity of childhood?

The reality is that his death was preventable.

In the past nine-plus months since he died, he should have turned 16, earned his driver’s license, gone to school dances, hung out with friends and prepared for summer vacation. Yet here we sit, longing to awaken from this nightmare and waiting for the investigation into his death to come to a close.

We have lost a shining star in our lives, replaced by an empty place in our hearts that will never heal.

For certain we can come together and pass commonsense gun laws that will help turn this shameful trend in our country around and protect all of our children.

Source: My son died from an accidental gunshot. Too many kids have easy access to guns

2 thoughts on “My son died from an accidental gunshot. Too many kids have easy access to guns

  1. what about firearms that are intended for home defense? A firearm not ready in the time of need, is useless. thoughts?

    1. A keypad gun safe can be purchased for less than $75 on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QCN8NV9/ref=syn_sd_onsite_desktop_127?ie=UTF8&pd_rd_plhdr=t&th=1), while examples of biometric gun storage can be found for $80 ( https://www.amazon.com/Voice-Gun-Safe-Biometric-Fingerprint/dp/B09P4M4QHY) and $110 (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QFQ179L/ref=syn_sd_onsite_desktop_127?ie=UTF8&pd_rd_plhdr=t&th=1) on Amazon. There are a variety of ways to securely store guns with children in the home, even when you want quick access in case of an intruder. The cost of not properly securing your guns can be the loss of a child’s life (more than 6000 children and teens were killed or injured by guns in 2022), and that is a price no one should have to pay.

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