WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Due to the sheer number of accidental shootings involving guns in the hands of children across the nation, KSN News put local children to the test; a controlled test.
The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office teamed up with KSN News to test how children react when they find what they believe is a real gun.
WATCH | KSN Investigates: Guns & Kids
With the permission and complete cooperation of their parents, watching the test unfold from another room, we began.
The question at-hand: With no adults to be found, how would children react if they see what they believe to be a real gun? What would they do?
THE FLOWER FAMILY
Two of our seven child participants are brothers. Bradyn is 6 years old and Brock is 5 years old. Their parents are Cassi and Frank Flower.
The Flowers told KSN News that both boys are curious about guns, especially young Brock.
“He loves guns. He loves to know about them. He has NERF guns, because he just, everything he’s ever done he wants to know about them,” said Frank Flower, Brock and Bradyn’s father.
That’s why the parents said at least Brock, they thought, would find the BB gun.
“Our instinct was he was going to touch it,” said Frank.
“I was just hoping and praying that they would leave it alone,” added Cassi Flower, the boys’ mother.
The Flower family says they do not have guns in their home. However, they say they have family members who do, including the boys’ grandparents.
It’s an event older brother, Bradyn, told KSN’s Brittany Glas after our gun test was complete.
“…We were at our grandma’s house and there was a gun in our grandpa’s room, and Brock saw it first,” said Bradyn.
It was this scary incident, about one year ago, that prompted the Flowers to participate in our KSN Investigation: Guns & Kids.
“They [the grandparents] have a gun and it’s normally kept up, and it was left out and while they were getting dressed, Brock had went in to talk to him and saw the gun,” said Cassi, adding that thankfully, the gun wasn’t loaded when the then 4-year-old discovered the gun.
“We’d never actually shown him [Brock] a real gun. So, up until that point, he thought all guns were toys,” said Frank. “He wasn’t understanding what it meant to hold a gun, to touch a gun, what a gun meant. So, we knew right then that we had some work to do to instill in them that these are not to be played with.”
It was this incident that became a wake up call for the parents. So, Cassi and Frank Flower sat the boys down and made a devoted effort to teach them about guns and gun safety.
“We have been focusing the past year on really talking to them about guns,” said Cassi. During our test, that effort appeared to pay-off, at least, in part.
KSN Investigates: Guns & Kids Test
At 6 minutes 26 seconds in to our test, six-year-old Gabriel spots the gun. This time, Gabriel’s announcement draws the attention of more of the boys.
Walking toward the gun Gabriel says, “Woah! Wow! There’s a pistol over here!”
Nathan walks toward them and says, “Don’t touch it.”
Bradyn is interested in the new discovery.
“Yeah, a pistol!” he chimes in with excitement.
Nathan responds the same way: “Don’t touch it!”
Seconds later, you hear a soft voice coming from behind the scene of the action. Five-year-old Brock poses a serious question to the group:
“What do you do if you see a real gun?”
Answering the question himself, Brock says, “Tell an adult.”
Ten seconds later, Gabriel is drawn to the gun, once again.
Gabriel: “Why is there a pistol in here?”
Brock: “I don’t know.”
That’s when Brock picks up the BB gun and holds it for two seconds before Nathan, while physically pulling Brock away from the gun, instructs him again, “Don’t touch it!”
Bradyn issues another set of instructions to the entire group:
“Whoever touches that, don’t touch it. Or, don’t shoot it.”
The boys debate the danger of the BB gun, believing it is a real handgun.
Brock: “…What if there’s real bullets in it?”
Gabriel: “What do you mean ‘real’ bullets? It’s a real gun. What if there is bullets in there?”
Brock: “Yeah, what if you push that?” pointing at the trigger. “Then a real bullet would come out.”
“It’s nerve-racking any time there’s a gun involved with kids,” said Cassi Flower, Bradyn and Brock’s mother. “I was just hoping and praying that they would leave it alone.”
But, he didn’t. What got Brock’s father’s attention?
“I heard him before he [Brock] touched it. I heard him say exactly what we’ve been telling him to say, ‘Stop. What do we do when we see a gun?’ explained Frank.
“But, then he just kind of went about his day. So, I was really happy at least that I heard him say it.”
After about 13 total minutes, KSN re-enters our back studio. This time, however, Brittany Glas is accompanied by Sedgwick Co. Sheriff Easter and Lt. Dehning. Once they enter, almost immediately, Brock and Bradyn alert the adults in the room to the gun.
“There’s a gun,” said Bradyn. Pointing to the BB gun on the other side of the room, Brock continued, “Yeah, there’s a real gun right there!”
The boys’ parents focusing on that, and overall, the Flowers were pleased.
“I’m really happy with the way everything turned out,” said Frank. “I was really happy that [they] immediately told the adult that walked in the room that there was a gun.”
For Brock’s parents, the exercise provided a sense of relief that their message got through to their boys, even to a degree.
All things considered, “I think it went amazingly great,” said Cassi Flower.
“They were listening when their parents talked about it and it’s a discussion all parents should have with their kids,” said Sheriff Jeff Easter. “These are parents that they obviously have had talks with their kids, which is great because that’s exactly what we would tell parents to do.”
RESULTS & ANALYSIS
In the fewer than 15 minute time period the kids were in the back studio, under multi-camera surveillance, only two of the seven children ever touched the BB gun. Brock, 5, our youngest boy, touched it first. Before Nathan intervened at one time, Brock held the gun for two full seconds.
No child ever pointed the gun at another child during the course of the entire demonstration.