Employee & Community Health

Keeping kids safe around guns

10/14/2019 by Dr. Matthew Bernard

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Kids are curious and quick, that's why guns and kids can be a deadly combination. 

  • It's estimated that about one-third of households with children ages 18 and under have a gun in the home. 
  • Children and adolescents who live in or visit homes with firearms are at an increased risk of fatal and non-fatal firearm-related injuries, suicide and homicide. 

If you, as a parent, grandparent or other caregiver, keep guns in your home, here are some steps you can take to make sure kids are safe: 

  • Make sure guns are unloaded. 
  • Store them in a locked location, such as a gun safe, out of the reach and sight of children. 
  • Store ammunition in a separate locked location that's also out of the reach and sight of children. 
  • Hide the keys and combinations. 
  • When a gun isn't in its lock box, keep your eye on it. Don't leave guns on a nightstand, table or other place a child can find or reach it. 
  • Make sure all guns have effective, child-resistant gun locks. 
  • If a visitor has a gun in a backpack, briefcase, handbag or an unlocked case, provide them with a locked place to store it while they're in your home. 
  • If you decide to remove a gun from your home, dispose of it safely. To find out how to do that, contact your local law enforcement. 

Also, take time to talk with your kids. Explain how a gun they might see on television or a video game is different from a gun in real life, which can really hurt people. Teach them never to touch a gun and to immediately tell an adult if they see one. And once you think your child is ready, enroll them in a gun safety training class. 

Dr. Matthew Bernard practices Family Medicine at Mayo Family Clinic Northwest. He enjoys hunting for deer, pheasant, grouse, squirrel, elk and caribou.