According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), at least 285 children got hold of a gun and inadvertently shot someone in 2017. That is why the AAP recommends that no guns be in the home of a child. If this is not possible, they recommend all guns be locked away properly, and that you discuss gun safety with any household where your child plays. Any death or injury from accidental gun use is a travesty, and it is up to responsible adults to ensure children are not able to get their hands on weapons.
If a family decides to have guns in their household, it is important that these guns are stored properly so children do not have access to them. Proper storage means that all guns are stored unloaded, separately from ammunition. The gun should be stored in a lockbox, gun safe, or vault. A trigger lock can also be placed on the gun for added protection. If you do not have a lock, many police departments will give them away for free.
People may argue that they are not be able to adequately protect their families with all of these precautions in place, yet the truth is, children are more likely to hurt themselves with a gun rather than be protected by one. According to the AAP, a gun in the home is 43% more likely to kill a friend or family member than kill a criminal. Further, children with behavioral health issues are more likely to use a firearm to harm themselves or others. The risk of suicide is 4-10 times higher in a house with a gun.
Ask About Guns
Even if you do not have a gun in your home, it is important to remember that the households where your child plays may have a gun. Before a play date, ask the parents if they own a gun. If they do own a gun, ask them about storage. Even if they say their child does not know about the gun, this may not be correct. According to the AAP, three-fourths of children living in a household with a gun know where it is stored. This is why it is important to make sure you ask how the gun is stored and confirm it is locked up properly.
Talk to Your Children About Gun Safety
Most importantly, every parent should talk to his or her child about gun safety. Children should be told that if they ever find a gun, they should come and tell you immediately. They should be reminded that the guns they see on TV are not the reality of guns in the real world, and these are not toys. Express to your children how dangerous guns are, and instill in them that they should always stay far away from any gun they come across.
While storing a gun properly cuts down on unintentional injury and suicide, the safest home is still a home without any guns