Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bathtubs, Guns, And Children

Bathtubs, Guns, And Children

This isn't a great combination, of course. A reader told me of a discussion in a law school class involving a question of liability. It was one of those very typical situations:
a crack addicted wife getting a hold of a her husband's gun resulting in the wife's attempted suicide. I responded that I didn't think the husband had a legal duty to secure the gun from his wife and he responded "what about a child?" I said, in an off the cuff way, "a child is is more likely to drown in a bathtub than accidentally by a fire arm."
The professor didn't believe this, so I told the student how to go about finding the data--and went looking for it myself, at the Centers for Disease Control's wonderful website, You can request data on accidental drowning deaths by calendar year and by age (and yes, specific to bathtubs) and accidental firearms deaths of children by calendar year and by age.

In the years 1999-2006, there were 300 drownings in bathtubs for children <1 year, 294 for 1-4 years, 59 for 5-9 years, and 69 for 10-14 years (722 total). By comparison, firearms accidents for those same years and ages, nationwide: 0 deaths <1 year; 7 deaths for 1-4 years: 30 for 5-9 years; 81 for 10-14 years (118 total).

The answer is clear: there need to be mandatory bathtub safety classes before parents are allowed to rent or buy a place with one of those porcelain dealers of death.

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