Friday, January 18, 2013

An Important Message On Gun Safety from Dr. Sunder

Nithya Sunder, MD
The goal of every PHA provider is to help ensure a happy, healthy, and safe childhood for all of our patients. One potential threat to children's safety is the improper storage of firearms. There has been a lot of controversy recently about proposed gun control measures and the best way to protect people in this country from violence committed using firearms. The priority of this blog is on protecting children from gun-related violence.

Aside from the numerous reports of small children, teens and young adults being involved in highly publicized mass shootings including Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut, there are many studies detailing how often firearm-related violence affects children and teenagers. In 2008 and 2009, an average of one child or teenager was killed every three hours. A child or teen suffered gun-related injuries about every 31 minutes during that same time period. The number of preschool-aged children killed by guns was almost double that of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. In Illinois in 2009, there were 4.3 children or teens killed or injured by firearms per 100,000. A 1991 study revealed that 8% of accidental shooting deaths were caused by a child under the age of 6 years. The most recent study comparing 23 industrialized nations shows that 87% of children under 15 years who were killed by guns lived in the United States. For teens and young adults between ages 15 and 24 years, the gun homicide rate was 42.7 times higher in the US than in the other countries combined.

One way to protect children from gun violence is to limit their access to unsecured guns at home. Illinois requires locking devices on all handguns sold by retail dealers but not private sellers. Accepted locking devices include both external and integrated options. Despite similar laws in other states, in 2000 out of all American homes containing both children and guns, 55% had one or more unlocked guns and 43% had a gun stored without even a trigger lock in an unlocked location. More than 75% of guns used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional injuries were in the residence of the victim or their relative or friend. The U.S. General Accounting Office estimates that some basic safety additions could reduce 31% of accidental deaths caused by guns. 8% could be prevented by child-proof safety locks and 23% by a loading indicator. Keeping firearms locked while unloaded and keeping the ammunition locked separately has a drastic effect in decreasing the number of youth suicides and unintentional injuries.

Parents should also be aware that while they might have either no firearms in their home or guns that have been stored as recommended, the same cannot necessarily be said of other homes. The homes of your neighbors and your children's friends might contain guns that have not properly been secured.

Regardless of your views on current legislation regarding access to guns, ownership of firearms, and types of guns and ammunition that should be legally available, we at PHA ask that you work with us to protect our kids from gun-related violence starting in the home.

1 comment:

Pediatric Intensive Care said...

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