It is estimated that 39 percent of all homes in the US have some
type of firearm, of which one in four is a handgun. Access to firearms
in the home increases the risk of unintentional firearm-related death
and injury among children. Unintentional shootings cause more than 20
percent of all firearm-related deaths among children ages 14 and under.
An underestimation of the child's ability to gain access to a firearm
in the home is a common problem. In addition, unlike adults, children
are unable to distinguish between a real gun and toy guns, and children
are not able to make good judgments about how to safely handle a gun.
Firearms are often portrayed on television and in movies as
glamorous. In addition, the consequence of firing a firearm may not be
portrayed as seriously in the media, because children often see
the "shot" actors alive in other movies. Toy guns may add to a child's
perception that real guns, like toy guns, are harmless and fun. It is
important that your child knows the difference between a real gun and a
toy gun. Although the only sure way to keep your child safe from
unintentional firearm-related injury and death in your home is to remove
all firearms from the home, there are other ways to improve the safety
of your child around firearms.
- proper storage
Firearms should always be stored unloaded and
separate from ammunition. The firearm and ammunition should both be
locked away and out of reach of children.
- educate your child
Teaching your child the dangers of guns may
help prevent unintentional firearms-related injuries and death. A parent
should teach a child if he/she sees a firearm, to:
- not touch the firearm.
- leave the area.
- tell an adult immediately.
- check with neighbors
Even if your own home is free of firearms,
your child may visit another home where firearms are kept. Always check
with neighbors, friends, and relatives to make sure they safely store
their firearms, out of reach of children.
- other safety devices
Safety devices such as gun locks, lock
boxes, and gun safes should be used for every firearm in the house.
Safety devices on firearms could prevent most unintentional fatal
shootings of children ages 5 and under.