Unsecured real Guns pose a Danger to Children During COVID-19 Outbreak – says AAP
As children stay close to home during the pandemic, parents should make sure their guns are secured in a gun safe or with gun locks to prevent injury
This summer many children will be staying closer to home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and parents may be distracted by work or other responsibilities. If you have a new or old gun or hunting rifle in your home, now is a good time to add a gun safe, gun lock or other secure method to keep it out of the hands of children.
June 21 is ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Day, which encourages conversations among parents about securing guns. That includes making sure guns in your own home are stored securely so children and teens cannot access them.
A recent study found that 39 percent of parents erroneously believed their children did not know where their gun is stored, and 22 percent wrongly believed their child never handled a gun. According to the CDC, firearm-related deaths are one of the top 3 causes of death in American youth. Every day 73 U.S. children are injured and 14 children die from gun injuries.
“It shouldn’t be mysterious that gun injury is a leading cause of death among children, because children are curious and constantly exploring, and teenagers are well known for having poor impulse control, even when maybe they should know better. When kids make a mistake with a gun, unfortunately, too often there is no second chance to unmake that mistake,” said Alison Tothy, MD, FAAP, a pediatric emergency medicine physician in Chicago and a gun-safety expert. “An unlocked gun is an attractive nuisance around children of any age. One mistake can cause a permanent disability or even death.
“To keep children safe, you must lock guns in a safe or with gun locks, and store the ammunition in a separate, locked location,” Dr. Tothy said. “If you can’t secure your guns, then you should get them out of your home.”
Gun Safety Tips for Parents from the AAP
- If you own a gun, you can greatly reduce the risk of a child being injured or killed by storing the gun unloaded and locked, with the ammunition locked in a separate place. A study showed keeping a gun locked up reduces the risk of death or injury by 73%. Keeping it unloaded reduces the risk by 70%.
- Choose a gun storage system that fits your home. A wide variety of gun safes and gun safety devices are available, including inexpensive gun locks, trigger locks and lock boxes.
- Make sure children and teens can’t access the keys or combinations to lock boxes or gun safes.
- When you bring children into your home, whether it’s a new baby or children coming for a short stay, include safe gun storage as part of your safety sweep of your home. Just as you put away medicines and poisons, cover outlets, and stabilize furniture, lock up or remove firearms to prevent a tragedy.
- When your child is visiting another home, ask if there are any guns in the home, and how they are stored. You can do this when asking about pets, discussing food allergies or preferences, and other items on your checklist. Depending on where you live, between 18 and 64 percent of homes have guns. It’s important to ask.
- Do not keep loaded, unlocked guns in the car.
- Talk with your children. Remind your kids that if they ever come across a gun, they must stay away from it and tell you immediately. However, studies show simply instructing children to avoid guns is not enough. All children lack the self-control to resist the lure of a gun; this is why it’s important to make guns inaccessible to children and teens.
- If you cannot adequately secure guns in your home, consider storing firearms outside your home, or consider participating in gun buyback programs in your community. Call your local police department for more information about buyback programs.
- If you have a teenager at risk of suicide, remove all guns and ammunition from your home. The risk of dying by suicide is 4 to 10 times higher in homes with a gun.
The AAP has a gun safety toolkit with videos, PSAs, infographics, and other information available at: