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Texas 5-year-old kills self; don’t blame the gun or the weed

19-year-old Melissa Ringhardt was sleeping when a 5-year-old picked up the gun she left on the table and shot himself.
19-year-old Melissa Ringhardt was sleeping when a 5-year-old picked up the gun she left on the table and shot himself.

A young boy in Texas recently got a hold of a gun and shot himself in the head while his babysitter slept. News outlets have been jumping on the story, seizing on a report from the police which claims that she was high on pot when it happened. This of course has been the leading headline, and we here at Texas Cannabis Report ran the same headline in order to let people know what was happening.

Essentially this 19-year-old girl was watching a five-year-old boy and a six-month-old infant in the southeast Texas town of Vidor. The details are murky, but she allegedly smoked marijuana the day everything went down. She had a pistol which she set down on the coffee table and for some reason left it there when she went to take a nap. The boy got a hold of the gun and when she awoke, found him on the floor, having shot himself in the head.

It’s a tragic story of irresponsibility, stupidity, and a witch hunt.

The gun and the weed are not to blame here. People use them both daily without incident. It wasn’t a lack of training on the teenager’s part, people who know very little about guns know better than to leave one where children can access them, especially unsupervised. It wasn’t that the marijuana made her forgetful, though she likely had no business consuming it while babysitting children.

I’m going to take the politically incorrect stance here and say that there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with consuming cannabis while watching children. It depends on a number of things including tolerance and experience, whether or not the plant has to be used as a medicine, how much is consumed, and the maturity of the person consuming it.

We see people drink beer all the time and watch their kids, often without incident so long as it is consumed in moderation. Cannabis should be no different, especially given that alcohol has far worse effects on brain function than marijuana. This doesn’t even touch on the many pharmaceuticals which people take on a daily basis, pills that are far worse on the mind and body than alcohol or cannabis ever thought about being.

This should be a decision for the parents to make though, not for some babysitter. If someone is hired to come over and watch kids, we expect them to not take any sort of mind altering substances, especially someone with such a lack of experience in the matter.

Let’s be honest here, this girl’s stupidity led to a child’s death. We as a society have to accept that laws cannot fix stupidity and that things like this will happen from time to time. Trying to blame the gun or the cannabis does a disservice to us all, as we search to lay blame on anything but the person whose actions led to the event.

Could firearms training for the boy have prevented this? Possibly, but it still doesn’t excuse leaving a gun around for him to get a hold of. Many children receive firearms training and it helps to deter issues like this, but we can’t stop them all; we can only work to educate people enough to prevent this as much as possible. The same can be said of any drug usage.

It is also disgusting that people would use such a tragedy to further their political ends, but this is largely how the news is used these days, and we must prepare for and counter it as best we can.

By: Stephen Carter
Contact Stephen via email at TXCann@gmail.com

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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