Guns and Kids: 5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Accidents
The topic of guns and kids is increasingly controversial, especially when considering the growing number of legal gun owners in the U.S. Despite the best efforts of well-meaning parents and educators, scores of children are injured or killed each year as a result of gun accidents both inside and outside the home. Although you can't be with your child 24 hours a day, there are some smart ways to help keep your child from becoming another statistic.
Here are five ways to reduce the risk of accidents:
1. Educate Children on the Dangers
The most important thing a parent can do to prevent an accident with a firearm is to educate their kids on how dangerous they are. If you see a story in the news about an accident involving kids and guns, talk about it with them. You can also look for some educational videos online that deal with the dangers of guns and watch them together. The younger they are, the less likely they are to take such matters seriously, especially when they see movie actors spraying bullets at each other and handling their weapons so carelessly. Life is not a movie and if they get shot, they need to understand that in real life, they won't miraculously return the following season and there are no superheroes that can stop bullets.
2. Provide an Action Plan
Since your kids can't spend all their time at home, it's possible that they could come across a gun elsewhere. For example, your child may be at a friend's house and find a loaded gun sitting in a drawer or closet. Make sure your child understands never to pick up a gun, and to alert an adult instead. Adults can deal with loose firearms and reduce the risks of others hurting themselves.
3. Know Your Child's Friends
Always know who your children are spending their time with. Get to know their friends, and if possible, their friends' parents. Their peer group has a lot to do with whether or not they're likely to be around firearms and the last thing you need is to find out too late that they're hanging around with juvenile delinquents.
4. Keep Your Firearms Locked Up
There are pros and cons to locking your guns up in a safe. On one hand, it'll help keep them out of your kids' hands and prevent them from being stolen. On the other hand, if someone breaks into your home, they won't be as easy to get to if you have to defend your family. Fortunately, there are companies that make common household furniture with hidden compartments for hiding firearms in strategic locations. Your kids don't need to know that the bookcase by your bed has a secret panel on the side.
5. Teach Them How to Shoot and Handle Guns Safely
Finally, teaching your kids how to shoot and handle guns safely is one of the best ways to get them to appreciate the power of a firearm firsthand, so they'll never take it for granted. The biggest advantage to this is that if they ever do end up with a gun in their hands when you're not around, they'll know how to handle it properly and check to see if it's loaded. They're also unlikely to make a nervous mistake like dropping it, which could result in an accidental discharge.
Keep in mind that there's no guarantee your kids will never find themselves in the presence of a firearm. They spend most of their day at school with other kids, some of whom might be gang members that routinely carry weapons. Your best bet is to make sure they know everything there is to know about the dangers of firearms and what to do if they come across one.