Few topics of discussion can be as polarizing as the second amendment right for Americans to keep and bear arms. It’s also hard to imagine a topic that elicits more passion than protecting children. Put those two ingredients into the same conversation and the result is a volatile cocktail that quickly drives the participants to one extreme position or the other.
Statistics are no help. Staunch supporters of gun owner rights and those who would just as soon see every gun in the country destroyed have one thing in common: They are incredibly adept at putting their lens in front of any compilation of “facts” about accidental gun deaths involving children and focusing on some aspect or angle that supports their point of view.
But this blog isn’t about politics, opinion, statistics or the emotion that frequently accompanies discussions involving firearms and children.
It’s about focus — your focus. The one thing we all must agree on is what to do to keep our children safe from an accident involving a firearm. What can you do today to help prevent your child from becoming the next proof point in a spirited discussion on firearm safety? The following steps may be nothing more than common sense, but unless you can actually check each one off, you haven’t done enough for the safety of a child in your care.
- If there is a firearm in your home, and there is even the most remote chance that a child will ever enter your home (admit it, we’re all in that category), make it your responsibility to secure that firearm in a locked safe or container. Night stands, bedroom closets or grandpa’s glass gun case won’t cut it. And storing a firearm where you think it will never be found has generated more heart-breaking headlines than you know. If you have to call on your child to program the DVR because you haven’t mastered that task, you can’t hide something where they won’t find it. Odds are your secret hiding place has already been discovered and explored. Small safes and digital lockboxes are often less expensive than the firearms they secure. They also help prevent curious kids from becoming statistics. Consider the cost an investment in pain avoidance.
- Educate your children about what to do when they find themselves in a situation where a firearm is discovered and there are no responsible adults in the room. In a word, “Leave.” Tell the child to find an adult and make them aware of the situation, and if they don’t seem to share your child’s concern, go back to that first piece of advice: Leave. Your objective is to make sure your child is on the school bus the next morning and not part of a breaking news story.
That’s it. A simple, nonpolitical, uncontroversial course of action anyone can take to keep children safe when firearms are present in the home. Feel free to join in the debate and exercise your freedoms no matter which side of the issue appeals to you. But in the meantime, consider taking these two simple steps to ensure kids stay safe. They may not be exciting, but when it comes to child safety, the absence of excitement can be a good thing.