An instructor at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky recently told gun owners that they should keep their firearms in the bedrooms of their children during a seminar on "home defense concepts."
Rob Pincus, owner of firearm instruction company I.C.E. Training, warned NRA members about the threat of violent home invasions, going on to suggest that not only are weapons the only answer to this problem, but that firearms should be stored in children's bedrooms for easy access.
"Why would you consider staging a firearm inside a child's room?" he told the few hundred NRA members in attendance. "It's the first place I'm going to go! As I've saidâ¦many times, if your kid is going to break into the safe just because it's in their room, you have a parenting issue, not a home defense issue."
Pincus then asked participants to tell him what their responsibility was as gun owners in terms of access. One woman answered that she felt her duty was to "ensure" that people do not touch her firearms when they shouldn't. Pincus replied by saying: "Ensure is a strong word," he said. "So I'm going to say we have an obligation to try to prevent unauthorized access." He went on to say that hiding a gun, rather than locking it up, is okay to do.
According to researchers, just 39% of gun-owning families keep their firearms locked away, unloaded, with their ammunition in a separate area. This practice is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Meanwhile, Everytown for Gun Safety states that one of the highest rates of unintentional child gun deaths in the world can be found in the United States. While 265 people were accidentally shot by children in 2015, that number has already reached 96 deaths for 2016. A New York Times report found that during one week in April, four toddlers accidentally shot and killed themselves, writes Kira Lerner for ThinkProgress.
During the three-day NRA convention, a three-year-old girl in Beverly, Illinois accidentally shot a seven-year-old girl, killing her. In the same week, a five-year-old girl accidentally killed herself while playing with a gun in her home in LaPlace, Louisiana.
The problem of home invasion is seeing a decrease, with a decline in the national rate of home burglaries as well as the rate of violent crime during a home invasion. A Bureau of Justice Statistics report from 2010, the most recent year the study was issued, found that fewer than 1% of homicides in the United States take place during a home invasion.
"If the NRA is really are a gun safety organization, they should be lobbying for stronger laws that will protect children," Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, told ThinkProgress. "Instead, they are trying to promote and sell guns in a way that actually puts them in danger."