It is a parent’s hope that a child will be able to avoid injury and possible death if a dangerous situation presents itself by remembering and utilizing key safety principles and rules. For instance, although a family may not actually own a swimming pool, parents may want their children to learn about the dangers of being around swimming pools and other bodies of deep water.
Likewise, although a child’s home may not have a gun on the premises, the child could be exposed to a potentially life-threatening situation involving a gun at a friend’s house, in the home of a relative or at another location in the community. Therefore, it is our recommendation that children should at least be knowledgeable of these three points:
1) What to do and what not to do if they find a gun
2) What to do if they are visiting at a friend’s or relative’s home and another child either
has a gun or talks about showing a gun
3) Possible consequences that could result from not following gun safety rules
Remember, children are naturally curious and inquisitive. The power and lethality of a gun can be demonstrated by shooting a jug of water or a melon. This type of demonstration can not only remove the mystique of firearms, but can also reinforce knowledge of the dangers of improperly handling a gun.
I am thinking about purchasing a gun to protect my family in case of an intruder. Isn’t this the best way to keep us safe?
While both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association have concluded that the best way for gun owners to reduce the risk of gun-related injury and death in the home is to store guns unloaded and locked away, the gun owner who keeps his or her gun loaded for protection will need to consider other safety measures. For instance, a gun safe or lock box will allow you to keep one or more loaded handguns in a locked compartment while also allowing quick access if necessary. A possible alternative to purchasing a gun is to consult with a security specialist to explore ways to enhance the security of your home without keeping a loaded gun on the premises.
I keep my gun hidden on a high shelf in a closet at home. My children are not even aware that there is a gun in the house. Isn’t that safe enough?
There have been cases in which gun owners who kept guns in their homes believed that their children were not aware that a gun was on the premises. However, some of these parents were surprised to find out that a child in their home not only knew where the gun was kept, but had either touched it or picked it up on one or more occasions.
Any unsecured gun poses an unsafe situation involving avoidable risks. In addition to physical health risks, an unsecured gun also creates an unfortunate situation if it can be discovered and stolen during a break-in.
Simply hiding a gun, keeping it out of reach or not telling your children that there is a gun in the home are not reliable safety measures as they all are potentially dangerous situations that involve the unnecessary risk of a gun-related injury or death. Depending on the situation and the factors involved, a parent may be held liable for the gun-related injury or death of a child.
See “Safe Storage Options” for more information about safely storing unloaded guns.
Since I keep my handgun loaded for protection and I have children in the home, what is the best way to keep my gun stored safely?
You can greatly reduce the risk of a gun-related injury or death by storing your gun in a gun safe or lock box. These safety products will allow you to keep one or more loaded handguns in a locked unit while also allowing quick access to a gun if necessary. The security features of these products make the gun inaccessible to children.