Firearm education needed

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians used to be a harmless part of growing up in America.

Not any more.

It's not just because of political correctness, where a child can be suspended for chewing a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun, or the post-Columbine or Sandy Hook Elementary world.

Cleveland, Ohio, has just reached a $6 million settlement with the family of 12-year-0ld Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by police officers responding to a report of a guy with a gun outside a recreation center.

Tamir was shot after he reached into his waistband to grab the gun, which turned out to be an airsoft pellet pistol with the orange safety tip removed.

The president of the Cleveland police union, who was heavily criticized for his statements following the shooting, for which neither of the officers was criminally charged.

While the original caller said something about it involving a BB gun, that information wasn't relayed to the responding officer.

Without the orange tip, it would be impossible, at a distance, to distinguish the boy's airsoft pistol from a real .45. Unfortunately, officers don't have the luxury of waiting to get a good look at any type of pistol before making a life-or-death decision.

They also can't risk losing a fight, whether it involves a weapon or not.

It's not always police, of course; someone brandishing a look-alike weapon might be shot by a private citizen with a gun, legally carried or otherwise.

The police union official suggested Tamir's family use part of the $6 million settlement to education children about the use of look-alike firearms.

Whether or not they do, educating children about firearms is an important step.

It's not realistic to expect to be able to keep children away from all exposure to firearms. Making them forbidden fruit only makes them more attractive to curious young eyes.

Instead, they should be taught to respect guns, know what they are capable of, and treat all of them as if they are loaded.

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