While thoughts of summer often lead to playing in the pool or riding a bike, unintentional firearm injuries to children occur most frequently during the months of June to August and during the holiday season (November to December).
June 21 is National ASK Day, run by the Asking Saves Kids campaign. Safe Kids Grand Forks joins ASK and other gun safety advocates in urging parents to ask whether there are firearms in the homes where their children play.
Approximately two out of five U.S. households with children have a gun, and many of those guns are left unlocked or loaded. Each year in the United States approximately 68 children ages 14 and under are killed by an unintentional gun shooting, and more than 880 go to the emergency room with injuries from gun-related accidents. In 2006, there were more than 8,400 non-fatal injuries to children involving BB guns and pellet guns.
More than half of the parents surveyed who own guns, and have children ages 4 to 12, said they keep a loaded or unlocked gun in the home. Kids should never have access to guns, period. It’s too unpredictable and dangerous. Parents should talk to the adults in any homes where their children visit. Make it a priority to ask whether there’s a gun in the home and whether it is locked up where children can’t get to it.
Safe gun storage means:
– Guns are always kept unloaded, and ammunition is kept locked up in a separate place.
– Guns are locked away in a safe or lock box, or fitted with a trigger lock.
– Keys, or combinations to gun locks and ammo boxes, are stored out of reach of children.
– BB guns, pellet guns and other non-powder guns should be stored the same way as firearms.
– Both gun locks and load indicators – two safety devices that could eliminate more than 30 percent of all unintentional firearm deaths – should be used.
Safe Kids Grand Forks is strictly focused on the prevention of unintentional injury. With that in mind parents should seriously weigh the risks of keeping a gun in the home. Nearly all childhood unintentional shooting deaths occur in or near the home. Teach kids not to touch a gun and to tell an adult if they find one. Most kids cannot tell the difference between a real handgun and a realistic-looking toy.
For more information, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.