In this study, 'Seeing is Believing: What Do Boys Do When They Find a Real Gun?,' 29 groups of boys aged 8-12 years were observed in a room where a gun was hidden. Many of the children found and handled the gun, and half of the children actually pulled the trigger.
Most of the children that handled the found gun and pulled the trigger had previously received gun safety education. This study helps to prove that to keep your children safe and prevent firearm related injuries, it is important to restrict their access to guns, either by not having a gun in the home or by storing it properly.
Proper storage of a gun includes keeping the gun in a gun safe, lock box, or a locked cabinet or drawer. The gun should also be stored unloaded with the ammunition locked separately.
A gun put in a shoe box on the top shelf of a closet is not considered to be a safely stored gun. Neither is a gun placed under the mattress or somewhere else where your child 'would never look for it.' Children are naturally curious and if a gun is not stored properly, there is a good chance that a child may find it and injure himself or someone else.
Other steps you can take to ensure gun safety include:
- Use a gun lock or trigger lock.
- Make sure that your children do not have access to the keys used to lock your guns and bullets.
- Teach your children to not handle guns without adult supervision.
- Avoid letting your children play with realistic toy guns and nonpowder firearms, such as pellet guns, air guns, air rifles and BB guns.
Kids should know the 4 steps of the Eddie Eagle gun safety program, including:
- Don't Touch.
- Leave the Area.
- Tell an Adult.
As the American Academy of Pediatrics states in their book, 'Injury Prevention and Control for Children and Youth,' the 'risks of handgun ownership outweigh the benefits.' If you have children in your house, then consider getting rid of your guns. If you must have a gun in the house, then at least learn to store it properly.
If you do decide that you want to get rid of your guns to protect your children, you can look to see if a gun 'buy back' type program is available in your area. Or call the non-emergency number of your local police department and ask if they will pick it up.
Many communities also have free gun lock and/or trigger lock give away programs.
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National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. WISQARS Nonfatal Injury Reports and Injury Mortality Reports. Accessed April 2011.