As pediatricians, the safety and well-being of all children is our primary concern. When we counsel families on topics like safe sleep, baby proofing a home, selecting the right car seat, sunscreen, choking risks and even preventative care, we are ensuring children grow up safe and healthy.
Firearm safety is no different. Children are naturally curious and no matter how many times you tell them not to touch something, it’s inevitable that their curiosity will get the better of them. Even if parents think their firearms are safely stored or hidden out of a child’s reach, studies suggest that children do know that there is a gun in the home – and they know how to get to them.
One in three homes in the United States have guns. Having access to firearms can significantly increase the risk of injury to children of all ages. Among children, 89% of unintentional shooting deaths occur in the home. Most of these deaths occur when children are playing with a loaded gun in their parent’s absence. This is one of the reasons behind the ASK (Asking Saves Kids) campaign.
Founded by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the ASK campaign wants parents to pledge to ask about unlocked guns before their child goes to another home to play. Asking this simple question can prevent avoidable tragedy.
In addition, if a family has firearms in their home, there are important steps that can protect their family and others who may visit their home:
• Keep unloaded guns locked and stored in a locked cabinet
• Store ammunition in a separate locked cabinet
• Always observe young children who may be playing in the area where the gun is stored
• ASK other parents where their children go to play if they have a gun in the home
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