A study released this month shows that a lot of parents mistakenly assume their kids don’t know where the guns are stored in the house. The study looked into deaths and injuries caused to children by firearms, and found that up to 39% of parents wrongly believe that their children don’t know where firearms are stored.
The study was undertaken by Dr. Parikh, associate professor of pediatrics at the Children’s National Health System. The results were published in the journal Hospital Pediatrics, with the authors of the study calling firearm injuries amongst children “a pediatric public health crisis”.
The numbers included in the report make for grim reading. Some 4,500 children died from firearm violence in 2015, and 20,000 present at EDs for firearm-related injuries annually. The vast majority of these visits are for children between 12-19, though amongst children ged 15-19 homicide by firearm is the second most likely cause of death.
Some of these injuries could have been avoided by limiting children’s access to firearms. Whilst we, as gun enthusiasts, can do little about gun homicides, we can reduce the number of children accidentally injured by a few easy steps.
To return to the headline figure, the study found that 39% of parents erroneously believed that their children did not know where they kept their gun, and that 22% wrongly believed that their children had never handled their gun. For those of us who pride ourselves on keeping our weapons safely away from our children, this is certainly troubling.
It seems that some steps are particularly effective in reducing the level of accidental injuries caused by guns. Some states are now providing free gun safety devices, typically gun locks, which have been shown to reduce the likelihood of tragic accidents.
In addition, education seems to be the key. The study calls on pediatricians to counsel families on gun safety during routine visits. Whilst many of us may feel a little patronized by such measures, it appears that for many families it is effective. Casual gun owners may have become a little compacent about gun safety in the years before they become parents, and the birth of a child might be a good time to remind them about some basic rules.
The study also calls for pediatricians to become more involved in gun safety initiatives. Often, doctors are in an excellent position to educate or remind parents of their responsibilities as gun owners.
It will come as no surprise that, here at GND, we fully support these measures. Whilst we like to think that the majority of our readers take gun safety very seriously, and would never allow their kids to access firearms, we could all do with some reminders from time to time.
Keeping your guns secure when in your house is easy and inexpensive – a lot of gun locks now retail for about $10 – and is especially important if you have kids in your house.