If you own a firearm, you know it’s a constitutional right that comes with a good deal of responsibility. Even if you don’t own a firearm, your child may visit relatives or friends who do. Learn how to practice gun safety at all times, and how to properly secure guns in the home.
Younger Children and Guns
Of all age groups, toddlers with their boundless curiosity are the most likely to find hiding spots and play with the guns they find. However, children of all ages are at risk.
A recent study of children aged 8 to 12 found that after watching a PG-rated movie containing scenes of gun violence, children were more likely to use a real gun as a toy. Children who watched the movie with guns played with the real gun for about 53 seconds and pulled the trigger 2-3 times, while children who watched the same movie without the gun scenes picked up the real gun for about 11 seconds and mostly did not pull the trigger. It’s only natural for children to act out what they see on TV and video games. This doesn’t prove that violence in media turns children into violent adults, but it does illustrate that kids will be kids. Simply telling them not to touch something dangerous isn’t enough to prevent dangerous behavior.
Preventing Teen Suicide
Your teen may enjoy hunting or going to the shooting range, and be well-versed in safe handling of firearms. However, you still need to store guns in a location inaccessible to your teens. Adolescence is a difficult time. Mood disorders may develop faster than coping skills. Teenagers are known to take risks and not always think through the consequences of their actions – even sensitive, intelligent teenagers. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Keeping Guns Away From Criminals
Most gun owners keep firearms for home defense. Criminals who obtain guns illegally often steal them from the vehicles or homes of legal gun owners. Keep guns off the street by securing them discreetly in your home and vehicle so as not to attract the attention of thieves. This will help make your family and your community safer.
It is also worth considering that not all crimes are committed by “bad guys.” Mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and other impulse control issues can lead otherwise good people to commit violence. If these risk factors exist in your home, consider removing guns entirely.
How to Properly Store Guns
Guns need to be locked and stored separate from the ammunition. If you worry that storing guns this way will make it too hard for you to access the gun in the event that you need to defend yourself, consider alternative forms of self-defense. Or, practice accessing and re-assembling the weapon, safety on, when your children are not at home so that you feel confident you can do it quickly enough.
To learn more about preventing child gun deaths, visit the Be Smart campaign. Take the quiz to test your knowledge, and don’t be afraid to ask about gun safety in any home where your child is going to spend time.