Firearm safety is an important topic, especially when there are children in a home with a gun. Did you know, one-third of U.S. homes with children in them have a gun somewhere in the house? Research from the AAP estimates approximately 4.3 million children live in a home with an unlocked, loaded gun (Schaechter, 2022). For children under the age of 18 years old, firearms are the leading cause of death in the U.S. due to the risk for unintentional shootings, suicide, and homicide. The safest way to prevent gun related injuries among children is to keep guns out of the home according to the AAP, but there are ways to help prevent injury for homes with guns.
Safe storage is an important step in gun safety. All guns in the home should be locked and unloaded, with the ammunition locked separate from the weapon. If the gun is in use for target practice or hunting, engage the safety until you are ready to fire the weapon and unload it before setting it down. Do not store loaded and unlocked weapons in the car. Children and teens in the home should not have access to the safe or storage, but it is still important to talk about firearms with kids. Take the time to remind your children to stay away from any guns if they are seen and to inform you if they find one. Also, it is important to help your child understand that the weapons seen on television and in video games are often not real, but those seen in real life are extremely dangerous.
Even if your home does not have a gun in it, your child may still visit a home with one. Before sending your child to someone else’s home, ask if there is a gun present and how it is stored. If you are not comfortable with the presence of a weapon or its storage, consider inviting the friend or family member to your house instead! Our goal is to keep guns out of the hands of children to decrease risk for injury or death. This June we recognize the 9th annual National Gun Violence Awareness month to help address this safety concern, especially for children!
Schaechter, J. (November 11, 2022). Guns in the Home: Keeping Kids Safe. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Handguns-in-the-Home.aspx