More than 4 out of 5 parents who own guns do not practice safe gun storage. What can you do to make sure you can keep your child safe?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there is a gun in 1 out of 3 homes with children, and nearly 1.7 million children live in a home with a loaded, unlocked gun. Every year, thousands of children are killed or injured because of a gun accident at home, what is referred to as “family fire.” Family fire is any shooting involving an improperly stored or misused gun found in the home, resulting in death or injury. Gun safety should be considered if there are children in or visiting a home. The Asking Saves Kids (ASK) Campaign encourages parents to ask if there are unlocked guns in the homes where children play to help prevent family fire.
Why ask about gun safety in the home?
Whether or not your child is familiar with guns and gun culture, simple curiosity can lead to danger and harm. Toddlers are strong enough to pull the trigger of a gun.
Before kids visit the homes of their friends or family, parents often talk to each other about allergies, supervision, etc. Asking the question, “Is there an unlocked gun in your house?” is just another safety tool for parents to help keep their child safe.
It may seem like an awkward conversation, but there are ways that parents can diffuse the awkwardness by phrasing it as your issue. “I’m concerned about my child, they’re so curious. Do you have any guns in the house? Are they locked?” Phrasing it as your concern for your child hopefully can diffuse any tension, and open the air to have an honest conversation. If you aren’t comfortable with the answer, do not allow your child to visit the home.
Request a Gun Lock from Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness
Call (502) 629-7358 to request a gun lock, while supplies last. The lock will be mailed to your home address.
Gun safety lessons for kids
If guns are part of your family culture, keeping your guns locked is just one way to help keep your children or any visiting children safe. Talking with children about guns is helpful, too: This can help them develop respect for guns. Teach kids about weapons in an age-appropriate way, including the dangers of firearms but also their uses, and how they should never be handled outside of their intended use. Some talking points to consider include:
- If you ever see a gun, don’t touch it! You may think the gun is a toy, but it could be a real gun.
- Always think that a gun is loaded. Don’t ever touch a gun or pick it up.
- Guns are not something to play with.
- NEVER get a gun out to show your friends.
- If you see a gun at school in a student’s jacket, coat or backpack, don’t say anything to the student. Go tell the closest adult or teacher you can find.
Additionally, parents should have a conversation with their child about what to do if another child shows them a gun. You can tell your child that it is never OK to touch a gun, unless a grown-up or parent is supervising. If another kid shows you a gun:
- Don’t touch it.
- Leave the area.
- Tell an adult.
If your family hunts or does sport shooting, when children are of an appropriate age, showing them how to safely handle and secure firearms is another safety measure.
Please note: If your child shows any signs of depression and there is a gun in the home, move the guns outside of the home. Suicide is a leading cause of death among teens and 10 times more likely when guns are in the home.