Gun Smarts for Kids

Screen shot 2013-07-08 at 8.29.44 AM Children have a natural curiosity, especially when it comes to guns. Parents should not lull themselves into a false sense of security on this matter, even if they have spoken to their children about guns. All parents must take common sense steps to protect children, both by talking to them about guns and by unloading and locking all guns so that a child or teen cannot access them without direct adult supervision. Younger children are most likely to be injured, either shooting themselves or a playmate, after playing with a gun that they found in the home, not realizing that the gun is real or that it’s loaded.

Talking With Your Child About Gun Safety

There is no particular age to talk with your child about gun safety. A good time to introduce the subject is the first time he or she shows an interest in firearms, even toy pistols or rifles. Talking openly and honestly about gun safety with your child is usually more effective than just ordering him or her to “Stay out of the gun closet,” and leaving it at that. Such statements may just stimulate a child’s natural curiosity to investigate further.

As with any safety lesson, explaining the rules and answering a child’s questions help remove the mystery surrounding guns. Any rules set for your own child should also apply to friends who visit the home. This will help keep your child from being pressured into showing a gun to a friend. Make sure your child knows the difference between a toy gun and a real gun. Tell your child that guns used to create movies or on the video game screen are toys. Make them absolutely aware that BB guns, air guns, and firearms – rifles, pistols and shot guns – are not toys.

Gun safety begins with you! To ensure the safety of children, all gun owners should:

●Unload and lock up guns

●Lock and store ammunition separately

●Hide keys where children are unable to find them

●Secure unloaded firearms with a gun lock, gun alarm or other type of tamper-proof device

●Keep gun storage keys away from the “every day” keys

●When handling or cleaning a gun, adults should never leave the gun unattended

Screen shot 2013-07-08 at 8.30.00 AM As your child’s primary care giver, you owe it to them to prepare for the chance that they will encounter a gun. If you teach them the basics of gun safety, you will be in a better position to help your child if he or she should happen to find a gun and no adult is on scene. To control such a situation safely, you must have knowledge. That’s why we urge you and every parent to read and practice the principles of firearm safety.

There are several programs and community resources available for safety and firearms training. There are also several programs that offer free trigger, gun or ammunition locks. These can make a difference and save a life. To find out more about what is offered in your community, contact:

●Your local police department

●Your local SAFE KIDS Coalition. To find the closest one call 202-662-0660

●Project Homesafe, a national gun-lock distribution program. Call

800-726-6444 to see if there’s a Home Safe program in your area.