Guns and kids are a dangerous mix regardless of your stance on gun ownership. And some studies back up this claim.
The National Rifle Association says that one child is killed by gunfire every day in the United States. Moreover, there is a gun in almost 1/3 of U.S. homes with children; meaning more than 2 million children are dangerously close to unlocked and loaded guns.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the best way to keep kids safe from guns is for parents or adults to get rid of their weapons.
But if you can’t give up on your weapons and your Second Amendment rights, then keep in mind the following tips.
Secure all your firearms
If you have decided to keep firearms at home, then you must know where and how to secure them.
Securing firearms should not be merely hiding them. Truth is, you should never rely on hiding guns. Numerous researches have proven that this is not the safest way to keep weapons away from kids.
In a 2018 study by researchers from the University of Michigan, it was revealed that three out of four children aged 5 to 14 years old know where guns are hidden in their homes. Moreover, 33% of them have handled a gun without their parents aware of it.
Instead of hiding your weapons, invest in a cabinet. Unload your guns and secure them in a locked cabinet. Ammunition should be stored in a separate cabinet. The keys to those cabinets should be kept in a place that is out of reach of children.
If the budget is not a concern, you can try biometric gun safes. These safes are a costly but more effective alternative to cabinets. These make use of fingerprints to lock and protect firearms and provide the highest level of protection for firearm owners. Since you only need your fingerprints to open the safe, there is low risk or chance of kids opening a biometric gun safe.
Use a trigger lock
You may also use a trigger lock to disable the firing mechanism. This is a cost-effective way to prevent accidental firing.
A trigger lock is a simple and cheap way to prevent your weapon from being loaded or fired by a child. It is a two-piece lock that is designed to fit over the trigger and trigger guard, preventing the gun from being fired.
However, don’t rely on this as your main protection against unauthorized access to your gun. Trigger lock should never be an alternative to secure storage. Instead, you should consider using a trigger lock on your gun and then keeping it in a safe or a cabinet.
Never leave your weapon unattended
Be vigilant when cleaning firearms in the house. You may not know it, but your little one may touch or hold your gun after you put it on the couch as you prepare to clean it. You should always keep an eye on your weapon when handling or cleaning it.
Educate your child about firearms
Many parents think they should never talk about guns with their children, fearing that this may arouse the curiosity of the little ones and encourage them into accessing firearms stored at home.
However, gun experts agree that parents should talk about guns with their children before the latter comes across a gun at home. Having regular conversations about guns will demystify guns and help the young ones understand how firearms work and how they can keep themselves safe. This is particularly true for kids who are in middle school.
You can start by showing him photos of different gun types. This way, your child will learn how to identify them. You should then explain that if he sees a gun- even if it is a pretend gun, he must immediately leave the place and report it to an adult.
As he gets older, you can take the conversation to a higher level. You may discuss the difference between using guns in real life and video games. You may also explain what can happen if a person is shot; and that a single shot can take the life of an individual.
By the time your kid is in middle school, he or she will have likely heard about gun violence around the country. You can use the news as a conversation starter and keep the dialogue open about the dangers of gun ownership.
Assess other risk factors
Sometimes, adults are the ones who can access firearms and potentially cause harm to the children. You should assess your risk factors at home and take steps to mitigate them.
Is there an adult living with you who has drug or alcohol dependence? Do you live with a person with mental illness? Is there violence within the household? These are some of the scenarios which may require you to take more proactive action towards keeping your gun away from the reach of unauthorized people.
Protecting kids from firearms outside your home
You will be surprised at the high number of accidental shootings involving young children outside their homes. Hence, don’t be coy to ask anyone who hosts your kids about their firearm storage practices. This maybe your neighbor, extended family member, or parents of their playmates. Ask them questions until you attain peace of mind that the firearms in their households are locked and secured.
In short, it is second nature for children to explore new things around them. And unfortunately, that would include firearms. With the increasing number of accidental shootings involving children, you don’t want to take the risk of your child getting exposed to your gun.
If you can’t give up on your firearm, the best way to protect your kids is always to secure your gun. Invest in a solid and sturdy cabinet or gun safe and store its key in a safe place. This is always rule #1 in keeping your kids safe from firearms.