Health and Science News for Parents
Dec
27

Did someone get a gun for Christmas? Take these steps for safety

written by Tara Haelle

Today’s post is a guest post from Jeffrey Nelson, who designed the excellent infographic below with a lot of sobering evidence-based information. The issue of firearm safety and children is a big one for me, and I say that as someone who grew up in a house with guns, who shot my first gun well before I was 10 years old, and who has guns in my household currently. Those who follow this blog and follow me on social media know how important I feel this issue is — it’s up there with vaccines, breastfeeding, and infant sleep — but people forget in the midst of all the arguing about guns that there are real steps people can take to reduce risks of accidents and tragedies.

By Jeffrey Nelson of nationalbiometric.org

By Jeffrey Nelson of nationalbiometric.org

Every year, more than 100 children die from gun accidents, and many of those are self-inflicted or inflicted by another child. In the big scheme of all accidents, as this author notes, those numbers are not big — but they are all preventable deaths. Any preventable death is worth preventing. What struck me in this guest post is the same thing that struck the author: a mother who said her 3-year-old knows better. Emily Willingham and I dug into the research on this for our book The Informed Parent — there’s a whole section on firearms and children — and there is more than enough evidence to clearly state that 3-year-olds, and even 10-year-olds, DO NOT KNOW BETTER. Not only epidemiological/observational studies but also well-designed experiments have made it extremely clear that children are not developmentally capable of understanding the danger of guns. Our references are on our website, and you can check out the research yourself.

In the meantime, guns are a popular gift for Christmas and other gift-giving events. If you or someone who you know received or gave one, you have a responsibility to make sure you and they are aware of the steps that should be taken to reduce the risk of accidental discharge, injury, and death. The most important steps, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, are for those who own firearms to keep them stored unloaded in a locked safe or cabinet that is inaccessible to minors with the ammunition stored in a different locked, inaccessible location.

Disclosure: The infographic is sponsored by an online magazine and news site whose goal is to spread the word about biometric technology. Biometric technology is one proposed way to improve the safety of firearms and reduce gun injuries and deaths. This post does not constitute an endorsement of the publication or its website. I have chosen to share the infographic and guest post because the information is evidence-based and accurate and because it’s an issue I feel is important.

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5 Simple Steps To Keep Kids Safer Around Guns

The topic of guns in America is a tough one. Both sides are dug in; they both believe that someone is attacking them if any questions are being asked. I have known that fact for a long time and I, like everyone else, have seen this topic kicked around like the political football that it is over the last decade or two.

What I hadn’t seen, however, was a robust discussion on simple things we can do. There are several simple things that both sides agree on that will help make children who live in homes with firearms a little bit safer.

A few housekeeping items to clear the air:

  • I am not advocating a position, I am simply trying to present facts and solutions to an issue.
  • I am not insinuating that it is inherently unsafe, wrong, or immoral to have a firearm in a home.
  • I am not looking to ban all firearms.

On this journey over the last few months, I’ve discovered that nothing productive can get accomplished until the air has been cleaned a little bit with regard to this topic.

So how did I get interested in this topic?

I was at work chatting with a coworker one day when she casually mentioned she had a firearm on her bedside table. Now, this is a fairly normal occurrence in Texas, so it didn’t surprise me. Although not surprised, I was curious as to how she dealt with that knowing she had a three year old daughter. I asked her that very pointed question and she insisted that her daughter would never touch her gun because she ‘knows better.’

This answer surprised me a little. Being the father of three young children, I can’t even fathom putting their lives in their own hands all the while soothing my fears with ‘they know better.’ They don’t. They are children. That prompted me to set out and look for some statistics on how many people felt like her and what others did to help protect their loved ones and their firearms.

The findings?

They were somewhat surprising. Although there is a relatively large number of children estimated to be living in homes with unsecured firearms, like my coworker’s daughter, the actual number of incidents is relatively low when compared to other dangerous things like in-ground pools, for example.

I wrote about the subject of gun safety for kids a little more extensively on my site and I have produced an infographic as well that helps cover some of the statistics and what a person can do to help reduce the likelihood of their child or loved one being added to that category.

5 Steps To Improve Gun Safety For Kids

Jeffrey Nelson writes about all sorts of things from business to technology as well as passion products like this one. He is the administrator of a few different sites but spends a lot of his time writing for other publications and spreading the word on topics he is passionate about. Visit him on his personal site here.

 

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