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Gun Safety Guide - Gun Safety Advice

Protect Your Children - Empty and Lock Your Guns

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Updated May 01, 2011

Most parents are concerned about the safety of their children, and do their best to provide them with a safe environment, including using car seats, seat belts, life preservers, bicycle helmets and gates on stairs.

Too many parents forget about gun safety though.

Gun Safety Statistics

Having a gun in your home, especially if it is not stored properly, can be a significant risk factor for injury and death in children. In fact, firearm related injuries are a leading cause of death in children, and include deaths from unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide.

Between 1994 and 1998, 6,287 children committed suicide with a firearm and an additional 1,896 children were killed by unintentional gun injuries in the United States. All together, 18,297 children under age 19 died from a gun-related injury during these years, according to CDC National Injury Mortality Statistics.

An even larger number of children are hurt by nonfatal gun-related injuries.

In 2007, there were 122 unintentional firearm deaths in children, and an additional 3,060 nonfatal gun and shooting accidents, which resulted in an estimated 1,375 children needing to be hospitalized for their injuries.

Although gun-related injuries peak in adolescence, they can affect infants and younger children too. Younger children are most likely to be injured, either shooting themselves or a playmate, after playing with a gun that they have found in the home, not realizing that the gun is real or that it is loaded.

It is estimated that guns are in half of all homes in the United States. Although most of these guns are purchased for safety reasons, it is important to keep in mind that a firearm in the home is often thought to be more likely (up to 43 times more likely in some reports) to kill or injure a family member or friend than an intruder.

Because of the number of injuries from guns, programs have been developed to educate parents and children about gun safety. These include the Eddie Eagle gun safety program from the National Rifle Association, which educates children who find a gun to 'Stop! Don't Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.' The American Academy of Pediatrics also has a 'Keep Your Family Safe from Firearm Injury' program that educates parents about gun safety and advises that if you have children in your home, 'the safest thing is to not have a gun in your home, especially not a handgun.'

When most pediatricians offer advice about guns, it is because they are concerned about gun safety though, not gun control.

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