Thursday, May 28, 2009
Guns and kids and a horrible tragedy in Bakersfield
Was saddened to read Steve Swenson's story in today's Californian about the 2-year-old boy who was shot to death by his 3-year-old sister in Southwest Bakersfield. The girl found the gun, a 45-caliber Glock, stuffed between the mattress and the boxspring of her parent's bed and, in fooling around with it, accidentally shot her brother. There's never a good way to tell this story without being accused of sensationalism. I received one call from a man who was disgusted that we ran a picture of the mother with the girl, and he also accused us of insensitivity with the headline, which read "Girl Shoots Baby Brother," followed by a readout that started with the word "Tragedy." I don't have a problem with either the headline or picture and thought both the reporter (Swenson) and the folks who laid out the page did a fine job. The story took pains to talk about how guns should be safety stored away from children and noted the tragic consequences that follow when that doesn't happen. I also wondered what prompted the family to feel the need to keep a gun at bedside. How bad is crime in their neighborhood? Had they been victims before? It is certainly true that there is a sense of real fear out there amid this lingering recession. Cars are being stolen and homes broken into in the nicest of neighborhoods. Would welcome any comments on this story.