January 21, 2019

Gun safety tips for parents to prevent at-home tragedies

by
Father and son practicing gun safety while out hunting.

Don’t let your family experience tragedy. Follow these gun safety tips to prevent accidental shootings.

Firearms require respect, careful handling and thorough gun safety education.

However, research shows that nearly 2 million American children live in homes with improperly stored guns. The American Academy of Pediatrics defines proper storage as locked and unloaded, and stored separately from ammunition. Easy access to unsecured firearms is a factor in a majority of unintentional child gun deaths. Access to a gun is also a risk factor for teenage suicide. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that 40 percent of suicides among teens aged 10 to 17 in 2015 involved guns.

Gun education can prevent these tragedies.

A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that an average of 5,790 children in the United States receive emergency room treatment for gun-related injuries each year. The study said that about 21 percent of those injuries are unintentional. The study also found that an average of 1,297 children die annually from gun-related injuries, making guns the third-largest cause of death for children in America.

If adults keep guns, or if children are using BB, cap or paintball guns, here’s what both parents should keep in mind to ensure everyone’s safety:

Store guns and ammunition safely

  • Keep guns in a locked location, unloaded, out of reach and sight of children.
  • Store ammunition in a separate locked location, out of reach and sight of children.
  • Keep the keys and combinations hidden.
  • Make sure to equip all guns with effective child-resistant gun locks.
  • Lock up gun-cleaning supplies, which are often poisonous. (If you think your child has touched or ingested these supplies, call the Tennessee Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.)
  • When handling or cleaning a gun, never leave the gun unattended.

Talk to children and their caregivers about gun safety

  • Explain how a gun seen in a television show or a video game is very different from a real gun and could hurt someone very badly.
  • Teach kids never to touch a gun and to immediately tell an adult if they see one.
  • Talk to grandparents and the parents of friends your children visit about safe gun storage practices.

Dispose of guns you don’t need

If you decide that you no longer need to have a gun in your home, dispose of it in a safe way. Consult with law enforcement in your community on how to do so.

BB and non-powder guns are just as dangerous

  • Non-powder guns, such as ball-bearing (BB) guns, pellet guns and paintball guns, are not regulated by the government but can cause serious injury and death.
  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says that children younger than 16 should not use high-velocity BB guns or pellet guns. And these guns should only be used under the supervision of an adult.
  • Paintball guns are known to cause traumatic eye injuries, so kids need to wear protective eye gear when handling paintball guns.
  • Kids should not put caps for toy guns in their pockets, because these can ignite due to friction and cause burns, not to mention loud noises that can damage hearing.

Keep your home safe and practice these gun safety rules. Educating those you love about firearms can prevent accidents from happening.