parents

'My dad got rid of his gun. It's time for Jamie Gilt to do the same.'

Pro-gun activist Jamie Gilt is in a stable condition after being shot in the back by her four-year-old son while driving in Florida in the U.S. He saw the loaded .45 semiautomatic in the back of her truck, pick it up and fired it. It went through the seat and through Gilt.

It wasn’t his first time handling a gun. Gilt, 31, had previously boasted about his shooting skills.

America has a problem with guns. There aren’t many people who would dispute that. Not only do they have a problem with guns, they have a problem with gun-related crime. This includes mass shootings, accidental shootings and the illegal trade of firearms. It defies logic, and due to the power of the NRA and pro-gun lobbiests, it seems that nothing will change until each individual gun owner reassesses their decision to own a firearm.

The gun debate aside, it’s one thing for adults to make a decision to own and use a gun, it’s another for them to allow those weapons anywhere near children. Children cannot be held responsible for what they do if they come across a gun. It certainly sounds as though Gilt’s toddler son wasn’t aware of the consequences of his decision to fire the gun while his mother was driving the car. How could he be?

cropped mum
Pro-gun advocate Jamie Gilt is in a stable condition. Image: Facebook.
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Also, it’s one thing to own a gun, it’s another not to secure that gun properly.

What was it doing unsecured in the back of her truck?

I grew up on five acres in rural Sydney. It was a mini-farm complete with an assortment of animals and a large fruit and vegetable garden. My dad obtained a gun permit so he could shoot at the foxes that kept on stealing our chickens and the crows that were flying off with all of our eggs.

I think I saw that gun a handful of times. I had no idea where it was kept and couldn’t have messed around with it if I had tried. My dad had been handling weapons since he was young and knew how to use them and store them responsibly.

We eventually moved to a smaller house after buying a convenience store. The gun came with us although we no longer needed it for its original purpose. My dad continued to store it properly, except one time when my little brother saw it unsecured, picked it up and fired it into the dirt in the backyard.

Former PM John Howard talking to U.S. reporter Christiane Amanpour about Australia’s 1996 Port Arthur tragedy and subsequent buy-back scheme. Post continues after this video…

Video by CNN

I didn’t know this had happened until the gun disappeared. Port Arthur happened and my dad who – had always felt quite strongly about his right to bare arms – handed the gun in during then PM John Howard’s gun buyback scheme. He didn’t need another warning, another near miss or a terrible accident. After seeing what my little brother had done with a gun, he knew what he had to do.

The Port Arthur massacre in 1996 was all Australia needed to rethink our gun laws. It took one massacre, not countless massacres as in the U.S. The PM enacted the National Firearms Agreement, introduced the gun buyback scheme and the government bought back and destroyed nearly one million firearms that had been deemed illegal including semi-automatic, .22 rimfires, semi-automatic shotguns and pump-action shotguns. The pump-action shotgun was the type my dad handed in.

Children and guns don’t mix. Why would you ever want them to come close to mixing?

The tragedy is that the gun culture in the U.S. is so strong that it will probably never change in our lifetime, which makes me so happy to be living in Australia where it’s mostly police and baddies who have guns, and a few sportsmen and farmers and such. At least that’s what I tell my kids when they overhear the news about another domestic shooting death or massacre.

Similar gun
Gun similar to the double-barrel shotgun my dad gave up during the 1996 gun buy-back scheme. Image: iStock.
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That’s not to say we don’t have issues when it comes to gun violence. The NSW government is being criticised for opening up permit application forms to hunters and sporting shooters allowing them to apply for silencers for their weapons after successful lobbying by the Shooters and Fishers Party. It’s an alarming move, consider that silencers are banned in 11 states in gun-happy America.

Now is not the time to become lax when it comes to gun laws and the last thing we need is more silencers on the streets. I urge the Baird government to have a rethink.

I wish Jamie Gilt a speedy recovery and I hope she has learned from this. It’s one thing to be pro-guns, it’s another to become so complacent that one is left unsecured in the back of your vehicle.

It could have been much worse. Her little boy is unharmed and is currently the care of relatives. Although once recovered, Gilt may have to face charges due to the fact her son accessed a loaded, unsecured firearm. It’s good to know that even American gun laws have some limits.

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