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CHILDREN AND FIREARMS
No. 37 (Updated 06/2013)

Gun ownership is a right, but with it we have a responsibility.


Teach children first and foremost that firearms are not toys and should never be handled without their parents being present. Tell children that if they see an unattended firearm, they should not touch it but immediately notify a parent, teacher or other responsible adult.”


The following actions are crucial to lessen the dangers:

  • Always treat a firearm as if it is loaded, even if you have personally unloaded and checked it.

  • Never point a firearm in the direction of anything you are not willing to shoot.

  • Store all firearms unloaded in a securely locked container. Only the parents should know where the container is located

  • Store the guns and ammunition in separate locked locations

  • Use a trigger lock

  • When handling or cleaning a gun, never leave it unattended, even for a moment; it should be in your view at all times

  • Keep the firearm pointed at the ground at all times when a child is present

  • After you empty the magazine of the gun, discharge the gun into an appropriate target to check for a bullet that may still be in the chamber.



If you have guns in your house “take away the mystery”

The best way to teach children firearms safety is to “take away the mystery.” Tell your children that if they want to see a gun, all they have to do is ask. It doesn’t matter what you are doing at the time, take time to show the child the gun and take the opportunity to educate the child about the firearm.

If a firearm is in the home, the family needs to have a plan. Hiding it from the children could be one of the biggest mistake people make. Make sure that your child understands that the rules you make are not only to be followed at home but also at their friends homes or other places they may visit. Tell them "If you see a gun, STOP! Don't Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult." If their friends tell them “it's okay my mom or dad lets me” tell them to leave the room and go get an adult. Even while your child may have been taught about gun safety, he or she may have a friend who isn’t as smart and may let curiosity get the better of him of her.


If your child is staying with friends or family don't be afraid to ask if they have guns in the home and are they in a locked container and out of reach from the children. We have all heard the horror stories of children playing with guns at someone else's house. Don't let that be your child. Talking to your loved ones about safety will be something you won't regret.


Gun safety instruction is not enough, make sure they understand the dangers.

In one study, 8-to-12-year-old boys were observed via one-way mirror as they played for 15 minutes in a waiting room with a disabled .38 caliber handgun concealed in a desk drawer. Seventy two percent discovered the gun, and 48 percent pulled the trigger; 90 percent of those who handled the gun and/or pulled the trigger had prior gun safety instruction.



Don't let your child become a headline


9-year-old was shot in the head in his home. The shooting was the result of an accidental discharge of a handgun. (February 2013)

12-year-old boy accidentally killed by his friend when playing with his grandfather’s pistol kept under his pillow. (December 2012)


4-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the foot after he found a gun at his family home. (December 2012)


4-year-old boy was able to get his hands on a loaded gun and accidentally kill his 2-year-old brother.

(December 2012)


4-year-old boy who found a handgun in a closet at home, placed the barrel into his mouth and pulled the trigger as he had often done to get a drink from his water-pistol. (St Louis MO)


Children and adolescents with emotional or behavioral problems may be more likely than other children to use guns, against themselves or others. Parents who are concerned that their child is too aggressive or might have an emotional disorder may wish to seek an evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other qualified mental health professional.

For more information see Facts for Families:
#13 Children and TV Violence
#40 The Influence of Music and Music Videos
#55 Understanding Violent Behavior in Children, and
#65 Children's Threats: When Are They Serious.
See also: Your Child (1998 Harper Collins)/Your Adolescent (1999 Harper Collins).


This article was written by Tim Manasterski, a Metrodaycare.com staff member.



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