Children and gun safety – information you can’t afford to ignore.

While listening to the news yesterday, I heard the local reporter state that a young child had been rushed to a local hospital following a gun shot wound. The child was accidentally shot by another child in the home.  My heart sank at hearing of such a preventable serious injury.
Over 500 children a year in the United States die from accidental gun shot wounds in the home. 200 million Americans have guns in the home and and 1.7 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked guns. These statistics frighten me beyond words can explain. According to the website, a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found 39 percent of kids knew where their parent’s guns were stored, while 22 percent said they had handled the weapons despite an adult’s warnings to stay away. What’s more, age was not a factor in whether children had played with the guns — 5-year-olds were just as likely to report doing so as 14-year-olds.  So think twice before assuming that your child doesn’t know where your gun is or that he or she will listen to your warnings not to touch it.

We all have the right to own a fire arm under the Constitution and I’m not trying to debate that right.  But if you choose to have a gun in your home and children are present as well, please consider your responsibility in their safety.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “gun safety talks” just as you would discuss warnings about strangers and swimming pools. In our house, we use long car drives for “what if” scenarios to help walk our daughters through possible situations and guide their responses.

Although I felt a bit odd bringing up this topic when my children first reached the age of going to friend’s homes alone for play dates, I quickly got over my nerves about the subject and decided it was my job to make sure my kids were safe in and out of our home.  I know this can be a sensitive subject and I certainly did not want to offend friends but the topic was an important one for my husband and I. I recently read in a parenting magazine a suggested conversation that went something like, “I know this may be a personal question but I ask parents anywhere my kids are going to play. Do you have a firearm in your home and is it unloaded and locked? My child is quite curious and I’m not sure she would be safe if she found a firearm.” I thought it was a terrific suggestion of a non-offensive dialogue. 

So if you have a firearm in your home, please consider keeping it locked. I’ve heard the argument that if it’s locked one wouldn’t be able to access it quickly if an intruder entered your home. We have friends that have found a brilliant option to satisfy their desire for safety and protection in using a safe that recognizes an opens automatically to their fingerprints only in front of a sensor.  An investment of this type is worth any child’s life.

Milestones &Miracles wishes you all a happy, fun, and SAFE Fourth of July weekend! Celebrate our rights of freedom and our responsibilities to love the children we are blessed to have in our lives!

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