You do not have to own a gun for your family to need gun safety training. Headlines warn us that our children can encounter guns almost anywhere – including in schools and at the homes of friends or other family members. Because of this simple fact, it is important that all kids and all families understand the basics of gun safety. Parents must make a point of talking openly with their children about gun safety to be sure that they know what to do and how to take all of the right steps to avoid accidents.
The Four Key Steps
If kids find themselves in the presence of a gun, they may struggle to make the smartest choices. However, an open discussion about gun safety has to begin with the four things kids must do whenever they find themselves in reach of a firearm:
Do not approach the gun or the person with the gun – stop where you are.
Never touch the gun or accept it if someone is trying to hand it to you.
Leave the area – don’t just go to a short distance, but leave the room, house, or building (if possible).
Find an adult and tell them right away.
When you are discussing these four key steps for gun safety with your children, be sure that you tell them that each of the four levels is as important as the other. It is not enough to stay away from the gun – it may still go off, and people can be harmed. Tests show that children have the strength needed to pull a trigger – even accidentally – so distancing themselves AND telling an adult is of the utmost importance.
When You Own Guns
Never store a gun with ammunition loaded into it in any way – not even a single round.
Purchase special gun locks or lock boxes, and store everything out of the reach of any children in the home.
Do not store the keys or combinations to gun and ammunition lock boxes in a place where kids can find or reach them – and do keep them separate.
Keep any firearm cleaning supplies locked in a secure location as well since these can be harmful or hazardous, too.
A 2014 article in The Guardian determined that “as many as 100 boys and girls aged 14 and under are dying each year” due to accidental shootings in the U.S. All of these deaths were preventable, and most of them would have probably not occurred had gun safety been a priority. Don’t allow your family or household to become part of the saddest statistics imaginable. Instead, talk to children about guns and gun safety. Practice what you teach, and remember that it is up to you to keep the home safe. Finally, if you have firearms but want to be rid of them, you can contact your local police department to find out how to safely dispose of ammunition and firearms.