Kids were at home more than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that had an unexpected side-effect. In the United States during 2020, unintended shooting deaths by kids increased 30% compared to the previous year. With 4.6 million kids living in homes with unlocked, loaded guns, it’s important for families to start taking firearm safety seriously.
Is It Safe to Have a Gun in the House?
In homes with guns, the risk of homicide is tripled, and 58% of those deaths are children and teens. The risk of suicide is also increased.
If you decide to keep a gun in your home, there are ways to decrease the risk it might pose to your children. Even if your home is gun-free, it’s important to teach kids about gun safety. That way, if they see a gun in their friends’ homes, in movies and video games, or other unexpected places, they’ll understand that guns aren’t toys. Even last year, I helped my sister move into her new home and found a firearm in the hall closet left there by the previous owner. She had her daughter wait outside until we’d completed a search for other potential hazards. While my sister was able to be there to protect her child in this situation, there might be times when us parents aren’t around. Make sure to prepare kids with good gun safety knowledge in case a potentially dangerous situation arises when you aren’t with them.
Gun Safety at Home
An unlocked, loaded gun is a great danger to our kids. While you might think hiding it is enough, kids are curious and can access more than we expect. Unlike the gun in my sister’s home, unsecured and loaded in the hall closet, there are places and ways to secure a gun to make sure kids aren’t able to find or access them.
- Keep guns unloaded and the bullets locked separate from the gun.
- Keep guns locked up either in a safe or with a trigger or cable lock.
- Make sure the gun or safe is out of sight of kids.
- Make sure only the gun owner is aware of the lock combination or the key’s location.
- If you are shooting at a range or hunting, do not let a child take a turn shooting, no matter how much they want to.
Outside the Home
While we can do everything in our power to secure our homes, outside the home, we have less control. Thankfully, there are still steps we can take to keep our kids safe.
Teach kids the four steps to take if they see or are shown a gun:
- Stop. This step helps our kids remember what to do.
- Don’t Touch. Kids shouldn’t touch firearms.
- Run Away. In order to stop the temptation to touch or play with the firearm, they should run away.
- Tell a Grown-up. Kids should tell a trusted adult if they find or see a gun.
Add another step to making sure the houses of your child’s playmates are safe by asking about their gun safety, or have the playdate at your house if they do have unsecured guns.
Guns in Media
As we talk to our kids about gun safety, it’s important to teach them that the guns seen in movies or video games are not like how they are in real life. These firearms are extremely dangerous and aren’t toys. Remember, gun safety should be an ongoing conversation with our kids to keep them safe.Here at Troomi, we want to keep our kids safe—especially with tech. Check out Troomi for a child-safe smartphone and look out for more safety articles on our blog.