07/19/07 — Message of safety: Little boy’s death reminds us to share gun safety rules

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Message of safety: Little boy’s death reminds us to share gun safety rules

Andre Wilder’s family has a message for every little boy or girl in Wayne County who thinks a gun is a plaything, and that shooting someone is something you can undo.

They want young people to know that if they see a gun in their homes or outside their homes, they should take it to an adult immediately.

They should not try it out. They should not pretend they are a cop on the beat and point it at a playmate. They should not treat it like a toy.

The Wilder family speaks from experience. Their pride and joy took a gun he found near his home and started to play with it. When his teenage brother, who knew better, tried to take it away from him, the gun went off.

And this week, family and friends will gather to say goodbye to Andre, whose life was cut short unnecessarily because he did not know not to play with a gun.

Andre’s brother knew how dangerous a weapon can be in the hands of a child. He did the right thing by trying to take it away from his brother. It is sad that his efforts ended in such a tragedy. He acted just as a big brother should.

There is a lesson to be learned from Andre’s death — and it is not what most people would expect.

This tragedy points to the need for responsible gun ownership and education.

Teaching children to respect guns is as important as teaching them how to properly cross the street.

With the freewheeling portrayal of gun violence on television, many children do not understand the danger of a gun. It is our job to teach them.

And, although this warning did not apply here, if you are a gun owner, responsibility is the key. Proper maintenance and storage are critical to protecting your family’s safety.

That way, we won’t have to mourn another little boy.

Published in Editorials on July 19, 2007 11:01 AM