Gun Safes, Parental Education and Child Education Save Young Lives

ONE SHOT! A Child Fatality – Gun Safes and Parent Education Save Lives

As a father, and similar to fathers, I wake every day and think about my children, knowing I am going to be able to speak to them, maybe even provide them with some useful advice, sometimes hear them tell me I’m a dinosaur and above all know they are there to cuddle and love. My greatest fear and I’m sure I speak for all parents who love their children is that one of my kids should pass away before me.

For some, articles on accidental gun deaths and injuries to children and the associated appeals for gun safety is really a recurring theme that has been done frequently it no more has any impact for readers. For families that have experienced the tragedy of child gun deaths and injuries this complacency about gun safety can’t ever be tolerated. Nor could it be tolerated until we stop seeing newspaper headlines just like the Associated Press article posted on 14th March 2012.

“Death of Washington boy third gun accident in 3 weeks”

It really is only March 2012 and here we have the tragic story of a three year old that shot himself in the head with a gun left in his parent’s car. Police said the death of the three year old highlights the need for a greater knowing of firearm safety and for people to secure guns. This was the third accidental child shooting in three weeks two which have been fatal. The week before a seven year old girl was killed when a sibling found and fired a gun left unattended in a car and a in February an eight year old girl was critically wounded when a gun fired in the backpack of a 9-year-old boy as he put it on a desk.

One shot from an unsecured firearm and family life is turned upside down. The reverberations from that single fatal shot are not confined to the unimaginable guilt and grief experienced within the four walls of the family home, but has serious psychological, economic, and social consequences on the child’s friends, families, and communities. The occurrence of this one shot can frequently be traced back again to parents incorrectly assuming their child is educated about gun safety, misconceptions about children’s capability to tell the difference between a real gun and toy gun and a belief the youngster knows never to handle a real gun.

M.S. in his article, ‘A firearm safety program for children: They just can’t say no’, noted; ‘It is difficult to persuade children and adolescents to remain from guns or behave responsibly around them. Small children and those in elementary school frequently lack the ability to judge their probable threat of injury, identify hazardous situations, spot methods to prevent injury, or apply safety lessons they have learned in a classroom to the real world.’

In a single experiment preschool children and their parents attended a session when a police officer discussed the dangers of guns and asked children to promise to never touch one. After the session, the kids were videotaped playing in a room where toy and real guns were hidden. Despite their promises, the children who had attended the class found and played with real guns at virtually the same rate as children who had received no instruction. Compounding this problem are studies that show 85% of parents who own guns do not practice safe gun storage.

What this sort of research does indicate is that gun safety education aimed solely at children isn’t the answer, but instead identifies the need for a layered approach to gun safety education that not only includes gun safety education for parents also for friends and acquaintances which have guns in their house. Keeping children safe from gun accidents starts in the home. In case you have a gun store it unloaded in a gun safe or pistol safe, store ammunition separate to guns and continually reinforce children with the message that guns are not toys and are Never to be touched.

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