Tragedy in Georgia After Child Mistakes Handgun for Airsoft

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

I’m a staunch defender of airsoft guns, including how realistic they are. After all, they’re used for military simulation games and they kind of need to be realistic to work for that role.


However, I’ve never pretended that there weren’t risks involved in them being realistic. I’ve simply argued that many of those risks can be mitigated with proper education.

Those risks become even more pronounced when there are clearly multiple failures happening at a given time, which is what happened here in Georgia recently.

Monroe County Sheriff officials said on Saturday at 11 a.m., deputies received reports of a person shot at a subdivision off Sanders Road.

When deputies arrived, they located a 12-year-old that has been shot. She was taken to the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

According to the investigation, the victim’s seven-year-old brother grabbed a 22-caliber handgun, thinking it was an air-soft gun and shot her.

So, let’s take a look at where all the failures happened.

First, the .22 should have been locked up out of reach of a seven-year-old kid. That’s a big no-brainer that shouldn’t require any debate on.

In fact, if that had happened, there’s no chance this shooting could have occurred. None at all.


Yet it did.

Further, it seems clear that the seven-year-old hadn’t been taught not to point guns at people. Yes, I know, airsoft are basically toy guns, but I’ve noted many times that my own father raised me to observe basic firearm safety rules with even non-firing toy guns. I’ve long argued this should be the norm, so yes, I see this as a failure.

The good news is that the injuries weren’t life-threatening, but it’s a very sad day when that’s the good news. It shouldn’t be the case.

As things stand, no one has been charged in this incident, and some might figure that since Georgia doesn’t have a mandatory storage law, no one can be charged. That’s not correct, though. Georgia is one of a handful of states that have a law on the books that allows irresponsible gun owners to be charged if their gun is used by a child to hurt someone else.

However, it’s also possible charges won’t be filed because the parents will be punishing themselves enough that a prison term might be letting them off easy.


Either way, airsoft guns may be toys, but they cannot be treated as universally harmless. Those who buy them for their kids–and really, a seven-year-old is probably way too young for such a thing–need to take extra precautions to make sure actual firearms cannot be mistaken for their airsoft gun.

They also need to take the opportunity to start teaching basic firearm safety with a non-firing toy right off the bat. Had these two things been done, it’s unlikely we’d see a 12-year-old girl dealing with a gunshot injury.

While these kinds of incidents aren’t nearly as common as some would like for us to believe, they’re also easily prevented with a little common sense.

Then again, in this day and age, common sense might as well qualify as a superpower.

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