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Gun Safety - Gun Safety Advice

Child Safety Basics


Updated February 27, 2014

Store guns safely if you have kids in your home.

Safe gun storage is an essential part of the #gunsense campaign.

Photo by Beverley Vycital

Gun Safety Advice

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

Although firearm-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 found in the home, not realizing that the gun is real or that it is loaded.

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.


Gun Safety

It is estimated that there are guns in half of all of the homes in the United States. Although most of these guns are purchased for safety reasons, a firearm at home is thought by many people to be more likely to kill or injure a family member or friend than an intruder, especially if it is not secured properly.

To keep your children safe and prevent firearm related injuries, it is important to restrict access to guns by children and adolescents, either by not having a gun in the home or by storing it properly.

Proper storage of a gun includes that you:

  • keep your guns locked
  • keep your guns unloaded
  • keep your ammunition locked
  • keep your ammunition in a separate area from your gun

A safe or lock box are good places to store your unloaded guns and your ammunition. A trigger lock can also provide extra security when you store your unloaded guns in a safe or lock box.

As with other types of child safety, this type of layers of protection plan is the best way to protect children from accidentally finding a loaded gun, or finding a unloaded gun and ammunition and loading it themselves, and then shooting themselves, shooting a family member, or shooting a friend.

Other steps you can take to ensure gun safety include:

  • Use a gun trigger lock.
  • Make sure that your children do not have access to the keys used to lock your guns and ammunition.
  • Teach your children to not handle guns without adult supervision.
  • Avoid letting your children play with realistic toy guns.
Even if you don't have a gun in your own home, it is important to educate your children about firearm safety in case they discover a gun outside the home or in the homes of their friends.

Gun Safety Programs

Kids should also know the 4 steps of the Eddie Eagle gun safety program, including:
  • Stop!
  • Don't Touch.
  • Leave the Area.
  • Tell an Adult.
Parents should also consider discussing gun safety with other parents or family members if your child spends time in their homes. When your child has a play date or sleepover, do you know if there are guns in the home? If there are, are they properly stored?

Don't be afraid to ask other people about guns if your child is going to be in their home.


Kids and Guns

Parents shouldn't count on their child simply knowing what to do if they find a gun.

Much to their parent's surprise, one study found that most kids who find a gun will handle it, many will even pull the trigger, being unsure if the gun is real or a toy.

That highlights the importance of learning about gun safety and discussing gun safety with your pediatrician.



Carbone PS. Effectiveness of gun-safety counseling and a gun lock giveaway in a Hispanic community. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 01-NOV-2005; 159(11): 1049-54.

Connor SM. The association between presence of children in the home and firearm-ownership and -storage practices. Pediatrics. 01-JAN-2005; 115(1): e38-43

Connor, Susan M. "They're Too Smart for That": Predicting What Children Would Do in the Presence of Guns. Pediatrics, Feb 2003; 111: e109 - e114.

Grossman DC. Gun storage practices and risk of youth suicide and unintentional firearm injuries. JAMA - 9-FEB-2005; 293(6): 707-14

Howard PK. Parents' beliefs about children and gun safety. Pediatr Nurs - 01-SEP-2005; 31(5): 374-9

Jackman, Geoffrey A. Seeing Is Believing: What Do Boys Do When They Find a Real Gun? Pediatrics, Jun 2001; 107: 1247 - 1250.

Narang P. Do guns provide safety? At what cost? South Med J - 01-FEB-2010; 103(2): 151-3

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. WISQARS Nonfatal Injury Reports and Injury Mortality Reports. Accessed April 2011.

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