Iowa: Armed toddlers or early firearm safety lessons?

by Julio Castro, Contributor

Do people kill or do guns kill?

Within this political reasoning, gun culture arises to exert its influence over such dilemmas. However, their influence is much more evident within legislation.

Especially during a time when the U.S. is divided on the issues of guns while both sides pursue a similar goal: promoting firearm safety.

One prime example is the current bill making its way to the state Senate after its vote by the House of Representatives, 62-36, on Feb. 23, that would call for the legalization of the act of children 14 years or younger to operate handguns without supervision.

This makes the perfect case for gun lobbying groups and gun safety groups to collide head on.

Proponents argue if firearm safety is taught early on, then the misuse of firearms or accidental deaths involving firearms may be reduced dramatically.

It’s also important to point out that sport shootings are deemed as a popular recreational sport, making this bill heavily lobbied from such groups.

“Allowing people to learn at a young age the respect that a gun commands is one of the most important things you can do,” State Representative Jake Highfill said.

“This is not about giving our children the combo to the gun safe … this is about allowing them in a supervised scenario, to learn a great sport,” said Brian Hood, head coach of one of Iowa’s youth sport-shooting leagues.

From my understanding of this bill, if firearm safety can be taught early for children, then it can prevent the misuses of operating a live firearm and resulting in injury.

Or even if it’s for sport use, the key to safety comes within firearm education. However, what if parents, themselves, are not qualified to provide such firearm education to their children?

Even more so, there’s no age limit under the bill. Can a 1-year-old then legally operate a handgun, too? Where’s the line drawn?

Contestants argue such legislation is ridiculous considering recent events involving gun violence, and how children possessing firearms can lead to increased accidental misuses or even school shootings.

“(It) allows for 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds to operate handguns and we do not need a militia of toddlers,” State Representative Kristen Running-Marquardt said.

Iowa currently makes it legal for children to use long guns and shotguns under adult supervision with the exception of handguns.

It’s rather interesting to point out the ignorance of the recent “no-guns-at-all” culture that’s been arising, and as a result, people who have never been exposed to firearms do not agree other Americans should not be entitled to such.

On the other hand, with the acknowledgement that the second amendment indeed guarantees the liberty to arm oneself, incorporating gun legislation into controversial extreme open-carry legislation can be bothersome.

Nevertheless, both sides indeed provide compelling arguments, but whether this bill eventually passes as law or becomes struck down, I think it shall be an interesting sight to witness American gun culture at its finest.

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