Eek! A Gun! Let’s all Freak Out!
Russ Chastain 08.13.14
On August 12, 2014, a young girl discovered a pistol in the sand of a New York beach. Her hunt for sea shells on Coney Island turned up a pistol, described as a 9mm. There was apparently a round in the chamber of the handgun, which was later taken away by police. At least one report claims that it was “cut into pieces to be made inoperable.”
I’m not denying that this was a pretty good find and mildly interesting, but like so many things, it’s overblown. To many people, guns are mysterious and powerful in and of themselves, and this story is full of examples.
Lifeguard Jonathan Boyce was nearby when the young lady found the popper. He later said, “A little girl runs out of the water with a gun in her hand saying, ‘Look what I just found.'” He told her to put the gun down, and let it lie in the sand until police came to take it away.
He recalled, “I had to stay calm and rational, and like, make the right decisions.”
Obviously. Boyce did the right thing by not handling the gun; anyone uncomfortable and/or unfamiliar with firearms should refrain from handling them without some training. But what is there about a firearm that would have the opposite effect, that is, make someone excited, irrational, and cause wrong decisions to be made? To me, nothing, but to so many, it’s a reason to freak out.
Boyce reported that the girl’s mother said, “Oh my God, this is supposed to be a beach!”
Wasn’t it still a beach, with or without a gun?
Other upset beachgoers were quoted in a CBS 2 article:
“I would have a heart attack. You’d be surprised what you’d find out there in the water. Wow, wow.”
“Besides the sea shells, apparently, there’s a gun – scary; God forbid.”
“I would be petrified that they would touch it, and I wouldn’t even want to touch it.”
Really? “Heart attack?” “God forbid?” “Petrified?”
Many Americans know that guns are simply tools and that they’re safely handled millions of times every day. But so many others buy into the “guns are evil” mindset, and that’s a bummer.
Guns are tools. They are useful for many things. They can be safely handled, fired, maintained, and stored. They don’t fire themselves, and if they’ve been sloshing around in salt water for a while, they’re often less likely to fire even if you try to do so. (But don’t pull the trigger if you find one on the beach at Coney Island.)
But still, the overreactions. The CBS 2 article I mentioned above ends with this paragraph:
City Councilman Mark Treyger (D-47th), who represents the area, said the discovery of the gun should be a wake-up call for the Department of Parks and Recreation. Treyger has demanded increased patrols at Coney Island and Brighton Beach.
As if that will make a difference! Ridiculous.
Still, this is a good reminder to talk to your kids about guns and what to do if they find one in a public place:
- Don’t touch it, and never touch the trigger.
- Don’t panic.
- Tell an adult about it, preferably one you know and trust, such as a parent or another trusted adult.
- Adults: If you’re not familiar with firearms, if they cause any sense of panic or irrationality in you, do not touch the gun.
- Always remember the first rule of gun safety: When handling a gun, always point it in a safe direction.