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Put kids' safety above all else

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POSTED: April 1, 2014 2:00 p.m.

There is nothing more important than the safety and protection of innocent children. Not constitutional rights, not animal rights, not thoughts, opinions, feelings or political beliefs. The lives of children must be given top priority.
So, then, I assume it’s obvious why I felt last week’s report of a Hinesville 2-year-old accidentally shooting his mother was particularly disturbing. The child picked up a loaded handgun his mother had left on the night stand in her bedroom. The woman told police she was getting out of bed when her son shot her in the right arm. She hadn’t heard him come in the room behind her.
I may be living in the wrong region of the country to hold this belief, but guns have no place in a house with small children. Loaded, unloaded, locked up, unlocked — it does not matter. These things find a way of happening.
Yes, Georgia residents are going to buy and carry guns; their right to do so is protected by the Constitution. However, those who own firearms also must realize that they are obligated to consider their safety and the safety of those around them, especially young people who don’t understand the implications of handling a weapon. Last week’s incident is a perfect example of the tragic events that can unfold when proper precautions are not taken.
Honestly, the woman who accidentally was shot was lucky — lucky she’s still alive, and lucky her child is still alive. Things could have ended differently.
Another child who is lucky to be alive is 4-year-old Kevin Vicente, of Phoenix, Ariz., who was attacked last month by a vicious pit bull. The assault left the little boy with a broken eye socket and jaw, and he now has months — if not years — of reconstructive surgery ahead of him.
Again, I’m probably opening the flood gates of criticism here, but so be it. These animals have no place in society. They’re killers — plain and simple. Keep them away from children.
Oh sure, we all know the age-old anecdote — the friend of a friend who supposedly had a lovable, friendly pit bull for 15 years. The dog played affectionately with children its whole life and never hurt a fly. I’m not saying that can’t happen, but I am saying that for every pit bull that doesn’t attack someone, there are plenty of others that do. And even one attack is too many. Why take the chance, even if it is slim?
Soon after my daughter was born, we’d lined a babysitter up to care for her after I returned to work. The sitter, whom I trusted very much, invited our family over to dinner at her home one evening before she was set to start watching our baby. Everything was lovely — our sitter’s house was well-maintained and cozy, the food was delicious and our hosts were polite and fun to talk to. But they had a purebred pit bull.
The next day, we began making other arrangements for our daughter’s care. I understand the dog was great with my sitter’s little girl, but I wasn’t willing to put my child’s safety on the line. Not for a second.
I acknowledge that the law gives people the right to own weapons and vicious animals. But any parents who exercise those rights need to take every possible precaution to guarantee the safety of their children and other youngsters who visit their homes. That means keeping all items that can kill — living and non-living — away from human beings who aren’t old enough to know they’re in harm’s way.

 

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