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Fire Away the Firearm Safety Questions: Keeping Kids Safe by Guest Blogger Tulsi Patel


Did you know that in 2020, the biggest cause of death for children and teens (ages 1-18) was firearm accidents? It caused 3,219 young lives lost, even more than car crashes or

cancer (1). Some of these deaths happened because of accidents, while others were from people hurting themselves on purpose. Let's focus on how to keep kids safe if there's a gun at home. But remember, the safest option is not to have a gun in the house.


Suicides:

Out of the 3,219 youths who died because of guns, 34% took their own lives. That number has been going up over the years. While this is an uncomfortable and devastating topic, we are not powerless. Parents can help prevent these tragedies by decreasing access to guns in the home, because firearms have a 90% fatality rate(2). This is very high compared to the 3% fatality rate of intentional overdose. This means it is much more likely (3) to die by firearms compared to other suicide methods.


Sometimes, parents may not know that their kids have seen or touched guns at home. One study found that among parents who believed their children had not handled a firearm at home, 22% of children(4) actually reported they had. This difference emphasizes the importance of safely storing guns within the home: While parents may believe their guns are hidden well or their children would never touch one, this is not the case.


Unintentional injuries:

Children are naturally curious: Many will want to explore and investigate where it is, even if they’re told to stay away from them, which can lead to accidental injuries. Or, if they come across it, they may think it is a toy. Among children who were accidentally killed by a firearm, 85% were killed in their own home (5). Unfortunately, this can often be at the hands of a playmate or sibling (6).


Some people think young children cannot discharge a gun, but this is false. In fact, 25%(7) of three to four-year-old children and 70% of five to six-year-olds have enough finger strength to pull the trigger on a gun. This means even children as young as three can unintentionally fire a gun.


Here is what we can do:

1. The best way (8) to keep kids safe from guns is not to have one at home.

2. If you choose to have a gun in the home, store it unloaded and locked in a firearm safe or lock box.

3. Store bullets separately, in another locked place.

4. Use a combination lock (9) instead of keys, so kids can't find the keys easily.

5. Ensure the other locations where your children spend time are also safe—for example, before a playdate, check with other parents about safety in the house.


References:



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