Protecting children from guns

A 3-year-old shot himself in the head in Jeffersontown

It happens thousands of times a year: A child gets hold of a gun and shoots him or herself, or someone else. The latest incident happened in Jeffersontown when a 3-year-old boy shot himself in the head.

This year, 18 children have been brought to Norton Children’s Hospital with gunshot wounds. Three of those children died.

The Asking Saves Kids (ASK) Campaign estimates that nationally 1 out of every 3 homes with children has guns. And in those homes, 3 out of 4 children ages 5 to 14 know where those guns are.

This isn’t about politics around the second amendment right to bear arms, it’s about keeping children safe — and alive.

“It’s better to not have a gun in the house at all when kids are around,” said Sharon Rengers, R.N., manager, child advocacy, Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness. “But the reality is people have guns, and it’s up to adults to keep kids safe.”

RELATED: Keeping your child safe around firearms

Safe Kids Worldwide offers tips on how to keep children safe around guns:

Safe storage
  • Store guns in a locked location, unloaded, out of the reach and sight of children. Nightstands, bedroom closets or a glass gun case won’t cut it. Kids are curious and tend to explore.
  • Store ammunition in a separate locked location, out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Keep the keys and combinations hidden.
  • When a gun is not in its lock box, keep it in your line of sight.
  • Make sure all guns have child-resistant gun locks.
  • If a visitor has a gun in a backpack, briefcase, handbag or unlocked car, provide a locked place to hold it while in your home.
Accident prevention
  • Explain to kids that guns on television or video games are different from a gun in real life. A real life gun can really hurt or kill people.
  • Teach children what to do if they find a firearm and there are no responsible adults around. It’s simple: 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.
  • Talk to family members your children visit about safe gun storage practices.
  • Before your child goes to a friend’s house to play, ask the friend’s parents if there are guns in the house. If there are, make sure those guns and ammunition are stored safely.

Finally, if you decide you no longer need a gun in your home, get rid of it safely. Check with local police on how to do so.