Securing Your Guns
Though many American households own one or more legal guns, many parents don’t take the proper safety precautions concerning their children. About a third of American parents whose kids are still at home own a gun, but only 39% keep their guns locked. Guns can easily lead to tragedy when there are children in the home, so it’s very important to ensure that those children don’t get access to them. Project ChildSafe offers some helpful advice about practicing gun safety.
- Follow some key safe handling methods: take special care while loading or unloading the gun, and keep your finger well away from the trigger. Still, make sure you read and learn by heart the safety handling procedure of your particular gun, as each type is different.
- Store your gun in a locked area, such as a cabinet or a case, so that children cannot even reach them. Leave the gun store in a safe direction, facing a wall, for example. Keep the ammunition locked in a separate area.
- Lock the firearm itself. Gun locks make it impossible to fire the weapon.
- Check carefully to make sure that the gun is unloaded. In the unlikely event that a child got past those two locks, you would want them to be unable to cause any serious injuries.
Educating Your Children
After you’ve taken care of safely storing your guns, you should talk to your kids about gun safety. They see plenty of images in the media of guns, and some of those images suggest that guns are no big deal. As a parent, it’s your job to counteract that message, especially when children are young. Teach them that guns are not toys, and that it’s not funny to joke about using them to hurt people. Explain that if they ever do come across a gun—in your home or someone else’s—they should not touch it. Instead, they should find an adult and let him or her know what they found.
As children grow older, you can start including them on lessons on safe gun handling. If your family owns guns in order to hunt, and you allow your teenager to participate, always supervise him or her closely. Be clear about how careful you yourself are around guns. If your teenager shows any signs of depression, get him or her help immediately. Studies show that teen suicide rates are up to 10 times higher in households that own guns. Owning a gun is a big responsibility, and doubly so if there are children in the house, so make sure to take the proper steps to keep everyone safe.