Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in children. Every day across the United States, children are hurt or killed by guns, including right here in the Tampa Bay area. Rachel Dawkins, M.D., medical director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, shares some myths and facts for parents about firearm safety.
MYTH: I’ve had a conversation with my children about gun safety so they already know not to touch guns.
It’s very important to talk to kids about guns starting from a young age and giving multiple reminders. Children are naturally curious about guns, and telling them to stay away and not to touch the gun does not always work.
FACT: I should store my gun in a locked location, unloaded, with my ammunition stored separately.
Nearly all firearm accidents in the home can be prevented by making sure to store guns in a gun safe or locked location, unloaded, out of the reach of children. Ammunition should be stored separately. Leaving a gun in a nightstand or other place where a child can gain access may lead to injuries or death.
MYTH: I’ve hidden my gun, so kids don’t know where it is.
Three out of four kids between 5-14 years of age know where the gun is in their home. Hiding a gun does not take the place of securely storing a firearm.
MYTH: We don’t have a gun in our home so my child is safe.
One out of three children live in a home with at least one gun—many unlocked and loaded. If your child is playing at a friend’s home for the first time, you might ask questions about supervision, pets in the home, and discuss food allergies. But one question parents rarely think to ask is: “Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?”
MYTH: I have a teenager and they know how to handle a gun so I don’t need to keep it locked.
Parents of teenagers are less likely to store firearms safely. Teens are at greater risk of attempting suicide and an attempt with a gun is likely to be deadly.
FACT: I can get a free gun lock locally.
Many of the local police departments and sheriff’s offices provide free gun locks.
This information was shared on WTVT-TV’s Doc on Call segment, which is aimed at helping parents learn more about children’s health issues. The segment airs each Monday morning on Good Day Tampa Bay.