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Gun Safety and Kids

By Dr. Lea Thomas, Newport News Pediatrics

It’s estimated that 4.6 million kids in the United States live with unlocked, loaded guns in the home. That’s a scary thought when you think about the possibility of a young child finding an unlocked gun and pulling the trigger. Even a toddler has the strength to pull a trigger.

Firearms are now the leading cause of death in children and teens under the age of 18. Having a gun in the home increases the risk of accidental shootings, suicide, and homicide.

The best way to avoid unintentional gun injuries is to not have a gun in the home, but if you do, there are ways to protect yourself, others, and your child.

Safe Gun Storage

Hiding a gun is not enough. Children are naturally curious, and studies from the American Academy of Pediatrics show that most kids know where the family gun is kept.

Safe storage should be a priority for gun owners. If you have a gun in the home, make sure it’s unloaded and safely locked away in a gun safe. Keep ammunition locked in a separate location. Do not share the keys or combination to the gun safe with your children and consider gun trigger locks. They’re inexpensive and effective.

Ask About Guns in Other Homes

Don’t be afraid to ask if there is a gun in homes where your child visits and plays. More than a third of accidental shootings happen at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative.

Talk About Gun Safety with Your Children

Don’t assume they know not to touch a gun. Talk to them about the dangers and remind them that if they ever find a gun, it’s important to stay away from it and tell an adult immediately.

In addition, make sure your children understand that gun violence on TV shows, in movies, online, and in video games is not real. Remind them that in real life children can be seriously injured or even killed by a gun.

Did you know?

  • Death by suicide in teens is four to 10 times higher in homes with guns. Remove all guns from your home if you have a teen who is at risk of suicide.
  • Children as young as 3 years old are strong enough to pull the trigger on a handgun.
  • A gun is 43 times more likely to kill a loved one than a burglar or other criminal.

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About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.