|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.
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 much more likely to kill or injure a family member or friend than an intruder.
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 keeping the gun in a locked cabinet or drawer. The gun should also be stored unloaded with the bullets locked separately.
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 bullets.
- 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. They should know the 4 steps of the Eddie Eagle gun safety program, including:
- Don't Touch.
- Leave the Area.
- Tell an Adult.
You should also discuss gun safety with other parents or family members if your child spends time in their homes.
Gun Safety Internet Resources:
- Kids and Guns in America: key facts about the dangers of keeping guns in the home.
- Eddie Eagle: information on the Eddie Eagle gun safety program from the NRA, including a Parent's Guide to Gun Safety.