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Should 11-year-olds carry guns? Shootings complicate learning by doing.

Two incidents occurred last weekend in which an 11-year-old fatally shot another child revealing the complex reality of children learning gun safety by operating weapons. 

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Two 11-year-old children fatally shot other children in separate incidents last weekend, a reminder that guns on their own can be dangerous tutors for gun safety.

An 11-year-old boy from South Carolina accidentally shot his 12-year-old brother during a target practice in Ohio Friday. The boy had picked up a gun from off of a picnic table and shot it by accident, Carroll County Sheriff Dale Williams told the Canton Repository.

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Another 11-year-old boy in Tennessee shot his 8-year-old neighbor with his father's 12-gauge shotgun Saturday. The girl's mother said he had been bullying her for a time, and he reportedly shot her when she refused to let him see her puppy.

Previous incidents like these led to a petition for a more nuanced type of gun control proposal, one that voices fewer claims about the danger of the weapon and more concerns for the operator. A petition in August suggested restrictions on children firing guns.

Those who started the petition – the family of Charles Vacca, a gun instructor accidentally shot by a 9-year-old girl in Arizona – call this a "common sense" approach to guns. It clashes with some ideas for gun advocacy, however, because the counter-argument against such tragedies is to teach children about gun safety while they are young.

“Very few Americans believe the Second Amendment means that anyone under any conditions can have any kind of weapon," Tom Smith, the director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Society at the University of Chicago previously told The Christian Science Monitor.

Citizen's Crime Commission of New York, in a 2013 opinion piece published in the Monitor called for a unified education plan in schools and at home about gun safety, more research into how and why children use guns in violent ways, and strict liability laws for adults who let children access guns, a law already enacted in 28 states.

It is unacceptable that legal guns continue to be nearly as deadly as illegal guns when responsible firearm ownership is all that is needed to prevent many of those deaths. Not only are murders like the ones in Newtown and Sparks more likely to happen without better safety measures, but so are accidents: 89 percent of unintentional shooting deaths of children are in the home and usually when children are playing with a loaded gun without their parents present.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.


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