When it comes to your child’s needs, there are many things that most parents can all agree on. A diet of nourishing and healthy food, regular exercise, and a safe and warm bed at night. But when it comes to your child’s safety, things can become a bit more nuanced. While owning a gun might seem like a safety precaution, it can also present a risk. According to a report from the New York Academy of Medicine, over 4.6 million children in the United States live in homes with unlocked or loaded guns. If improperly stored, these guns pose a threat known as family fire.
Family fire is a shooting involving an improperly stored or misused gun found in the home, resulting in death or injury. Incidents may include unintentional shootings, suicides, and other gun-related tragedies.
Every day, family fire unintentionally injures or kills eight children and teens. Acknowledging the immense gravity of these incidents, Bustle recently partnered with the Ad Council and Brady to promote their joint campaign, “End Family Fire.” By introducing and promoting use of the term “family fire,” the campaign aims to raise awareness of this national crisis and change behavior by increasing responsible gun-owning practices such as safe storage. To help shed more light on this issue, here are some tips that gun owners can practice to keep their kids safe from family fire.
A key way to prevent family fire is to ensure that your kids can’t have unsupervised access to guns in the home – and that starts with always keeping guns locked and out of reach from children. According to the American Medical Association, three out of four kids in the United States know where unsecured guns in their homes are stored. Even worse, one in five kids has handled a gun when their parents weren’t around. Keeping your gun safely locked in a secure place can help prevent your child from ever stumbling upon it.
It’s vital to make sure your gun is unloaded when it’s not in use. As a tip, keep your ammunition stored separately from your guns, this has been proven to reduce the risk of family fire by as much as 61 percent, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. If you have to move your firearms, handle them properly, and transport them inside of a protective case that is cool, clean, and locked.
Know Where Your Kids Are Going
Parents and guardians ask all sorts of questions before they allow their children to visit other homes. They ask about pets in the house, discuss allergies and internet access, and ask questions about supervision. When sending your child off to play at a someone else’s home, parents and caregivers are encouraged to also ask, “Are there any unlocked guns in your house?”
It’s a simple question, but it has the power to save a child’s life.
Talk With Your Kids
With guns so prevalent in popular culture, children are bound to be curious about them. It is then up to the parent or caregiver to show their children that guns are a serious matter and to exemplify safe and sensible firearm practices. It benefits children greatly when positive role model stresses the great responsibility of owning a firearm.
While having regular conversations about responsible gun-ownership and safe storage is important, it’s not a be all end all. At the end of the day, the responsibility still lies on the parent to practice the necessary precautions to help keep their children safe.
Consider Other Options
While the second amendment gives us the right to bear arms, guns are not always the best way to meet our families' security needs. Keep in mind that the security options that are right for your family may change over time, as your family grows and your children become young adults. If you are unsure or have doubts about owning a gun, consider other home-protection alternatives, such as a home alarm system, a guard dog, or pepper spray.
Spread The Word
Knowledge is power. Gun owners and non-owners alike are more than encouraged to speak with family, friends, and members of their community about responsible gun ownership and the preventative measures that ensure a truly safe household. Visit EndFamilyFire.org for more information and safe storage tips. Education is the crucial ingredient in ending the unimaginable. Future generations will thank you.