According to the New York Times, toddlers shot an average of one victim per week in 2015. At least 265 children under the age of 18—and many much younger than that—picked up a gun and shot another child in the United States last year, and many of these pointless injuries and deaths could have been prevented if the children had been properly educated about firearm safety. One study suggested children who had received property education and training were far less likely to pick up a gun. This has not been proven, so be sure to err on the side of caution and follow these simple tips to help keep your child and others safe.
Sobering Facts about Kids and Firearms
Every day in the US seven children die from gun violence. According to the latest statistics, between 1999 and the present, children age 14 and younger have died from gun violence in the United States at a rate of 0.7 per 100,000. Sixteen per cent of those fatalities were unintentional. At just over 1.2%, that is just a very small portion of the overall total number of gun deaths during that period, but if your child is among those numbers it doesn’t matter how remote the possibility is. The danger is still real, and as a parent who is also a gun owner you will naturally want to do everything you can to make sure your precious child does not become another statistic.
The Importance of Demystifying Guns
The simple truth of the matter is children find guns fascinating, and even if you think your child knows better than to pick up a weapon, they may still be drawn to it. Handle your own guns with extra emphasis on safety. If your child has toy guns, show him or her the difference between the real gun and the toy to emphasize the difference. If your son or daughter is older, you may want to allow them to handle a weapon in a controlled environment. You may also want to consider allowing your child to shoot a harmless target such as a melon to let them see for themselves firsthand the serious damage a weapon can cause.
What Can You Do to Help?
If you have a gun in the home it is critical that you have a talk with your child about firearm safety and lead by example. Even if you are positive that your child will not pick up a gun, keep all guns in the house locked up when you are not supervising. You’ll want to make sure you have a gun safe in your house, and teach your children that they are not allowed to touch it without your permission. For an extra measure of safety, store your weapon and your ammunition in separate locked containers. Also, be sure to ask if there is a gun in the home before you allow your child to play at a friend’s house. Remember, just because your child is educated about firearms doesn’t mean their friends are.
How to Find Gun Safety Programs in Your Area
In many areas the NRA has a fantastic gun safety program that is aimed at preschool through third grade that will provide your child with information and hands-on experience with firearm usage and safety. If your local chapter does not offer these classes, get in touch with the NRA and they may be able to guide you toward age-appropriate resources. Local gun ranges may also offer these classes, so check with highly-rated ranges in your area. By educating your child and making sure you take steps to keep guns out of their reach, you will go a long way toward keeping your child out of harm’s way.