Boy Finds Gun In Dressing Room. His Mom's Reaction Illustrates Why We Need More Gun Education

Most people first learn about gun safety with informal classes like this, but is it really enough? Some never seek out even this informal level of education, and the consequences could be dire. (Photo by Steve Snodgrass, from Flickr)

It sounds like the beginning of a nightmare scenario. A 10-year-old boy finds a pistol in a store’s dressing room. Luckily, despite being the prime age to be curious and do something with potentially lethal consequences, this boy did the right thing. He told an adult. In this case, his mother.


Unfortunately, his mother, despite being an adult who should be past the prime age to be curious and do something with potentially lethal consequences, didn’t do the right thing. At all.

News outlets report the mother and son were inside a dressing room at the Adidas store in Lenox Square on Wednesday when the 10-year-old boy found what he thought was a toy gun under a bench. Atlanta police spokeswoman Stephanie Brown says the mother took the gun from the boy and pulled the trigger “to see if it was real.” A single shot was fired.

Brown says there were no injuries. There was minimal damage to the wall.


She pulled the trigger “to see if it was real.” Let’s allow that a moment to sink it.

In the meantime, I have a few choice words for whoever left a loaded weapon behind, but I can’t print most of them. Seriously, someone was freaking braindead and it’s a miracle they’re walking around.

Yes, accidents happen, but accidents with firearms have an unfortunate tendency to turn out bad. In this case, a criminal getting a free gun is actually one of the better scenarios in the short-term, for crying out loud.

Now, back to the kid and his mom…

First, good on the kid for doing the right thing. I think it’s safe to say he wasn’t raised in a gun family based on the actions of his mother, so either the boy was taught to tell an adult somewhere or he’s just a bright kid. Either bodes well in this case.

His mother, however?


I won’t call her an idiot, but I may or may not be thinking it. What I will say is that it’s clear she had absolutely no firearms education, which means she was ignorant. That ignorance could have had fatal consequences based on what we know. (For the record, she hasn’t been charged with anything.)

No, there weren’t any injuries. No, there wasn’t any extensive damage. However, that was a matter of luck. This was someone who picked up a firearm and pulled the trigger to see if it was real.

To. See. If. It. Was. Real.

That means she pulled the trigger on a firearm knowing that discharging a round was a possibility and did it anyway. Again, let’s allow that to sink in for a moment.

While I think most of us get that not everyone will be a gun person, I can’t help but think that this is the result of the complete lack of basic firearms education being provided to so many people in this country. Of course, you’re reading that and thinking, “Wow, Tom. You’ve just said the biggest ‘no duh’ thing imaginable. Good job.”

And you have a point, but bear with me for a moment.

When I was a kid, it seemed like most people I knew grew up with a gun or two in the house. Then again, I was raised by a cop in the Deep South, so my experiences may not be typical.

As a result of that, we were all taught how to handle firearms. Yes, even if you had no interest in handling a gun, you still learned how to handle a gun. Why? Because stuff happened and you might need to handle a gun, for crying out loud. For example, your 10-year-old son might have found a pistol in a dressing room and you need to determine if it’s real or not.


Just as an out-of-nowhere example, you understand.

That’s not happening these days. Maybe in much of the rest of the country, it never happened as much as I remember it. However, some form of basic firearm education should be the norm in this country, if for no other reason than so stuff like this doesn’t happen.

And no, it’s not sufficient for people to have to want to seek it out. The people who tend to need it the most are the people who are the least likely to look for such training. Instead, it needs to be part of school curriculums throughout the country.

I’m not saying schools should have ranges where students routinely shoot all manner of guns—I’m not saying it, but a guy can dream—but at least classes on the safe handling of firearms each year.

This mother is fortunate that no one was on the other side of that wall. The question is, will that be the case the next time someone ignorant picks up a gun?

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