The gun control debate has been a hot-button issue lately, after several school shootings across the country. Arguably, the same debate has raged on for years, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of gun control, we can all agree that keeping our kids safe should be a priority. That can mean having some tough conversations with your kids, and with their friend's parents. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should be talking to your kids about guns and gun safety before they go to a friend's house. Additionally, you should feel talk to the parents in those homes, to make sure your child is safe while in their care.
The statistics are eye-opening. According to the AAP, almost 1.7 million kids live in a house with an unsecured loaded firearm. Sadly, gun-related deaths are now the third leading cause of death for children in the U.S.
Tomorrow is ASK Day. Awkward conversations come with being a parent. But one could save your child’s life. Ask, “Is there an unlocked gun in your house?” before your child plays at, or visits, another home. Learn more here: https://t.co/eFtyXRQUFq #ASKingSavesKids pic.twitter.com/SykLwT7Xm5— Amer Acad Pediatrics (@AmerAcadPeds) June 20, 2018
Even if you don't own guns, or you keep your firearms unloaded and secured within your home, that might not be enough. Our kids routinely play at friend's homes, have sleepovers, and spend time with other families. It's so important that your child be aware of the dangers of firearms, and know what to do in a situation should a gun be presented to them. They are not toys, and kids should not be using them unsupervised in any capacity!
Gun safety educator Jenny Stadelmann told the AAP that parents need to ask other parents about guns in the home before allowing their child to spend time there. You should ask if there are guns in the home, and if there are, you need to ask how they are stored and secured. You don't need to focus on the specifics on what kinds of guns they have in the home. What's important is knowing that any firearms are securely locked up, with a parent having the only means to access them, and that ammunition is stored in a separate, locked location.
10 y/o having new friend over tomorrow.— Dr. Christina Johns (@DrCJohns) June 13, 2018
I disclosed to the other parent that there are no firearms of any sort in my home, before he could even ask.
I think it’s a reasonable “new playdate” conversation to have. #Docs4GunSense
If there are guns in the home, and you're not comfortable with your child playing there, it's a good idea to have the play date at your house instead. The bottom line is 89% of kids who die from an unintentional shooting die in the home where they had access to a gun without supervision. These are senseless, easily preventable deaths. And often times, it's not enough for parents to think their guns are inaccessible to their kids. According to the Brady Campaign, about 22% of kids whose parents said they had never handled a gun actually had at some point.
We know it can be a difficult conversation to have, but this is one you don't want to avoid. Your child's life could very literally depend on it.