This is a very endearing letter. It is innocent and touches the heart, but in all honesty, it also leaves one quite shaken. This apology is a result of a burden no 9-year-old should bear. The 9-year-old boy author of this apology is a student who got his hands on a gun from home and took it to school. With the ‘gun culture’ in place, it is only natural for a 9 year old to show off a gun to his classmates, but, we all know, it can be deadly too. It almost cost 8-year-old Amina Bowman her life when the gun in her classmate’s backpack when off and hit her in the spine. Even though Amina is well on her way to recovery, one can’t help but emphasise how lucky the girl has been – to survive this accident.
The letter reads:
“I’m sorry I hurt you because I brought a gun to school. I did not mean for anyone to get hurt. I wish no one got hurt. I wish you were out of the hospital playing basketball and going back to school.” He further writes in remorse, “I wish everyone was okay. I made a bad choice.”
The incident was shocking as well as tragic. But it was not a lone incident. Following are real stories from newspapers in USA:
“A loaded handgun fell out of a student's pocket onto the lunchroom floor and discharged wounding him and two other kindergartners in a Houston elementary school.”
“4-Year-Old Accidentally Shoots Twin Sister”
“Boy, 12, fatally shot by brother while playing with gun.”
“A 2-year-old Port Richey girl is in critical condition after accidentally shooting herself with a .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun.”
In all of these cases, the weapons were loaded as well as easily accessible to children. These are just a handful of stories from a long, long list. Such incidents have become so common place now that there are a number of support groups working across the country, creating awareness, providing support and even working as pressure groups to bring about a change.
There has been a lot of pressure on educational institutes to ban firearms and weapons within school limits but what of homes?
The Peter Hart Research group conducted a study on the issue in 1999, according to which, “72% of parents, believe their child “is not likely” to touch a gun without their permission. Another study conducted by The Benenson Strategy Group in 2001, showed that 75% of students in homes with guns, know where a gun is hidden.
It is then left up to the parents and guardians to ensure safe handling and storing of firearms and all sorts of weapons. It is a responsibility that none can afford to take lightly.