Guns are in more than one third of all U.S. households, so they’re a danger to children, whether you own one or not. That’s why it’s crucial to talk to children about the potential danger of guns – and what to do if they find one. If you do own a gun, keep it out of sight and out of reach. Make sure it’s locked and unloaded. Store ammunition in a separate place.
Talking to kids about gun safety:
Teach kids to follow these rules if they come in contact of a gun:
- Stop what you are doing.
- Don’t touch the gun.
- Leave the area where the gun is.
- Tell an adult immediately.
If you have a gun in your home:
- Unloaded firearms should be stored in a locked cabinet, safe, gun vault or storage case. The storage location should be inaccessible to children.
- Gun locking devices render firearms inoperableand can be used in addition to locked storage. If firearms are disassembled, parts should be securely stored in separate locations.
- Ammunition should be stored in a locked location — separate from firearms.
- Thoroughly double check firearms to confirm that they are unloaded when you place them and remove them from storage. Accidents could occur if anyone borrows a gun and returns it to storage while still loaded.
Gun safety outside your home:
Gun safety doesn’t end when your child leaves your home. Kids can still come into contact with firearms at a neighbor’s house or under other circumstances. Make sure you talk to your kids about gun safety outside your home.
When using a gun:
Gun use by children should always be under the supervision of an adult. According to the NRA and other gun organizations, four cardinal rules should be followed whenever using a gun:
- Always treat firearms as if they are loaded.
- Never allow a muzzle of any firearm to point to anything but an intended target.
- Never put your finger near a trigger until you are ready to fire it. Do not depend on a mechanical device – “the safety” – for safety.
- Always be sure of what is in front and behind the target.
A word about BB and Non-Powder Guns:
Non-powder guns, such as ball-bearing (BB) guns, pellet guns, and paintball guns, are not regulated by the government, but can potentially cause serious injury. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that kids under 16 not use high-velocity BB guns or pellet guns. In addition, these guns should be used under adult supervision. Kids who use BB guns must know never to point it at anyone, including themselves. In addition, paintball guns have been known to cause traumatic eye injuries, so kids need to wear protective eye gear.
Note: Data from this article comes in part from KidsHealth. This website is a great resource for parents – so it’s worth bookmarking. It’s a nonprofit funded by the Nemours Foundation, and its content goes through a vigorous medical review by pediatricians and other medical experts. The site has earned four Webby Awards (Best Family/Parenting Site and Best Health Site on the Web), the Parent’s Choice Gold Award, the Teacher’s Choice Award for Family, and the International Pirelli Award for best educational media for students.