The baby’s “maternal mother” ratted Gaines out. That’s how the cops knew about Gaines’s armament. They came to get him. Took him away in irons. Fingerprints. Jail cells. Humiliation.
Cops confiscated the weapon. Turned out to be a BB gun. And it wasn’t exactly “pointed” at his baby; careful examination revealed only that the baby was in “close proximity” to the toy. Close enough to be arrest-worthy.
Charge-worthy, too. They’re holding him without bond on “Child Endangerment.”
Authorities reasoned there could have been a “substantial risk of physical harm.” They might have hit upon that brilliant deduction after reading a peer-reviewed study by Robert DuRant of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
“Over 70 percent of families surveyed reported not storing their firearms safely in their residence,” said DuRant. “This concerns us a great deal because having guns in the home increases the likelihood that they will be used in a suicide or unintentional injury.”
The good doctor also pointed out that if a family didn’t have a gun in the house, then of course that missing gun would not be dangerous. “The safest practice would be to remove guns from the house,” he concluded.
These researchers forget that Mark Twain warned people way back in 1882 about the inherent dangerousness of guns in the house, particularly those which are thought to be unloaded:
Don’t meddle with old unloaded firearms. They are the most deadly and unerring things that have ever been created by man. You don’t have to take any pains at all with them; you don’t have to have a rest, you don’t have to have any sights on the gun, you don’t have to take aim, even. No, you just pick out a relative and bang away, and you are sure to get him. A youth who can’t hit a cathedral at thirty yards with a Gatling gun in three-quarters of an hour, can take up an old empty musket and bag his mother every time at a hundred. Think what Waterloo would have been if one of the armies had been boys armed with old rusty muskets supposed not to be loaded, and the other army had been composed of their female relations. The very thought of it makes me shudder.
DuRant estimates some 200 million guns are owned and, necessarily, stored by citizens. Think of the slaughter that awaits! Always remember: guns might be unsafe. Which is why you hear so many stories like this, again from Twain:
Never handle firearms carelessly. The sorrow and suffering that have been caused through the innocent but heedless handling of firearms by the young! Only four days ago, right in the next farmhouse to the one where I am spending the summer, a grandmother, old and gray and sweet, one of the loveliest spirits in the land, was sitting at her work, when her young grandson crept in and got down an old, battered, rusty gun which had not been touched for many years and was supposed not to be loaded, and pointed it at her, laughing and threatening to shoot. In her fright she ran screaming and pleading toward the door on the other side of the room; but as she passed him he placed the gun almost against her very breast and pulled the trigger! He had supposed it was not loaded. And he was right—it wasn’t. So there wasn’t any harm done. It is the only case of that kind I ever heard of.
Another surprising finding from DuRant’s study was this: “Our research shows that unsafe gun storage is associated with families who were raised with guns in the home…[These families] tend to be more comfortable with guns.”
Who would have guessed?
This expanded and re-purposed post originally appeared in January of 2008.
Update Thanks to the diligent grammarians for catching my typo.