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Water Kills More Kids Than Guns
The Orange County Register - 8 August 2000

The California Legislature is currently debating a bill
that would require handgun owners to be licensed
by the state. And amid the debate over Assembly Bill
273, you can be sure there will be claims that
burdening law-abiding gun owners with more
regulations is necessary to "protect our children" from
gun violence.

But if you look at the statistics in Orange County, it's
pretty clear that there's something else out there that
poses a far greater danger to kids than guns do.

It's called water.

So far this year, 18 people have drowned in Orange
County California - 10 in swimming pools, eight in the 
ocean.  Some of the deaths were the result of plain 
bad luck, while others, it must be said, were caused 
by the victim's own poor decisions: ignoring riptide
warnings, jumping into a pool without knowing how
to swim and so on.

But the really tragic part is that four of the people
who drowned in Orange County this year were
children 6 years old or younger, all of whom lost
their lives in swimming pools.

Now let's take a look at the number of gun-related
deaths in Orange County.

According to the Orange County Coroner's Office, so
far this year there have been exactly zero accidental
deaths involving firearms in the county. That's right,
zero. Out of millions of people and hundreds of
thousands of gun owners in the county, not one
person of any age has been accidentally killed by a

And even when you look at gun-related homicides,
it's still clear that in Orange County water is at least
as deadly as guns - and even more deadly for young

According to the coroner's office, so far this year
there have been 17 confirmed homicides in the
county that involved firearms - one less than the
number of drownings. And of those firearm deaths,
how many were children under 6?

Again, the answer is none. In fact, only three
gun-homicide victims in Orange County so far this
year were 18 or under, with the youngest being 16 -
and he was allegedly shot by an ex-con who was
already violating a host of gun-control laws by
having a firearm in his possession.

As for suicides involving young people and firearms,
so far in Orange County this year there have been two
- one a 14-year-old, one a 17-year-old. It's a terrible
thing, to be sure, but still a much-lower death toll
than from drownings.

Now, I know that some people will say I'm mixing
apples and oranges here - and maybe in some ways
that's true. Others will say that I'm using the dead
bodies of young drowning victims to make a
political point - which in a sense I am, and which I

But facts are facts. And the fact is that, while guns are
dangerous when they're misused, so are swimming
pools and trips to the beach. But how many people
would want to have to get a license from the state to
take their kids swimming?

So yes, we should be careful with our guns. We
should use and store them responsibly. If we own
guns and there are kids around, we should take extra
steps to ensure that the kids won't get hurt.

But people who really care about saving young lives
should do the same with their water.

And they shouldn't need a license to do it.

Gordon Dillow may be reached at (714) 796-7953 or
by e-mail at [email protected].