|Katie Faragher, CPNP|
From the desk of Nurse Practitioner
Americans everywhere are affected by the tragedies that have resulted from gun violence. Umpqua Community College, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Columbine High School are among many schools in the United States that have been terrorized by gun violence.
Unintentional shootings are also occurring at alarming numbers; causing 209 deaths among children in the United States this year alone. Firearms kill about seven children per day in the United States alone.
Half of the homes in the United States own firearms and it is estimated that almost 8.7 million children and adolescents have access to handguns. In fact, more than one third of all accidental shootings take place in the home of friends, relatives, or neighbors.
Injuries and deaths caused by gun violence can be reduced with gun safety awareness and prevention. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for gun safety are outlined below.
“The best way to keep your children safe from injury or death from guns is to NEVER have a gun in the home (AAP, 2015)”.
- Do not purchase a gun.
- Remove all guns from homes.
- Ask the adults in the homes where your children are playing if they have guns and if so, how they are stored.
- Remember, children are curious and childlike and simply do not understand the dangers of guns.
- Gun safety courses aimed towards kids do not work. A number of studies have suggested that children have difficulty resisting touching a gun even if they have been trained not too.
- Parents oftentimes develop unrealistic expectations about their children’s’ behavior around guns. (Links to these studies are provided below).
For those people that despite the dangers still choose to keep a gun in the house:
- Always keep the gun unloaded and locked up.
- Lock and store the bullets in a separate place.
- Only the parents should know the location of the gun storage.
- Consider a safe that requires a fingerprint to open the lock-keys can be found.
- If the safe does require a key for entry; hide the keys to the safe.
We would ask parents to consider delaying the teaching firearm use to children as they get a false sense of security that they know how to handle a gun.
On average about 1 death every week is caused by a toddler who gained access to a loaded unsecured gun. You may be interested to read further about this: http://news.yahoo.com/toddlers-shooting-guns-in-america-report-170725572.html
For further information on gun safety; please refer to websites below.