Gun safety must begin at the home

Tue, 06/20/2006 - 2:11pm
By: Michael Boylan

Is there a gun where my child plays?

On Wednesday June 21, Safe Kids East Central at the MCG Children's Medical Center urges parents to ask this question in support of National ASK Day (Asking Saves Kids).

"Children should not have access to guns," said Rene Hopkins, Coordinator of Safe Kids East Central. "But according to a 2002 survey commissioned by the ASK campaign, more than half of the parents surveyed who own guns and have children ages 4-12 say they keep a loaded or unlocked gun in the home."

The same survey found that 97 percent of parents who own guns "would not feel uncomfortable if asked about the presence of a gun in their home by another parent," yet 53 percent of parents said they had never asked. "Parents should speak to the adults in any homes their children visit and ask whether there's a gun in the home and if it is locked up where children can't get to it," said Hopkins.

Safe gun storage means:

· Guns unloaded and ammunition locked up in a separate place;

· Guns locked in a safe or lockbox or fitted with a trigger lock;
· Keys or combinations to gun locks and ammo boxes stored out of reach of children;

· BB guns, pellet guns and other non-powder guns stored the same way as firearms.

"Teach children not to touch a gun and to tell an adult if they find one. It's important that parents also know that most children can't tell the difference between a real handgun and a realistic-looking toy. Parents should seriously weigh the risks of keeping a gun in the home," Hopkins said.

Approximately one out of three U.S. households with children contains at least one gun. Each year, in the United States, approximately 60 children ages 14 and under are killed by accidental gunshots and more than 730 go to the emergency room-not counting the approximately 6,600 injured in accidents involving BB guns and other air-powered arms.

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