In my house we’re busy, working parents but we’ve certainly had lots of friends and relatives here at our house to play. No one has ever asked me if we had guns in the house. Last week my son visited a neighbor’s home and I didn’t ask before he went over.
I’ve asked friends and relatives if they had guns in their home in the past but I’m inconsistent–I may be out of practice. Asking a friend if there is a gun in the house can seem like a challenging and invasive task. I’ve written previously that asking about guns in the house for the first time can feel like asking about the color of someone’s underwear. We have to get over it.
An average of 8 kids and teens are killed by firearms every day and 42 additional children and teens are seriously injured.
It’s national ASK Day today thanks to the Center to Prevent Youth Violence. The statistics that got us here are staggering.
In April, for example, Bonnie Rochman at TIME wrote, “a 4-year-old picked up a loaded gun at a cook-out and accidentally killed the wife of a sheriff’s deputy in Tennessee. And on Monday, another 4-year-old shot and killed a 6-year-old friend as they played outside in a New Jersey neighborhood. ‘I’m sad for the children involved and their families, but I’m angry with whoever owns that gun and allowed a little child to get hold of it,’ neighbor Debbie Coto told the Associated Press.”
About 40% of homes in the US with children have guns and while only 1/2 of parents state they are concerned about guns, we know that 1 in 4 children who live in a home with a gun say they have touched it without their parents knowledge. Unintentional gun deaths are immensely tragic. Research shows that some 88% of children who are injured or killed by unintentional shootings are injured in their own home or the home of a friend or relative. The ASK campaign provides a great tips for how to ask about guns:
More than 70,000 children and teens in Washington live in homes with loaded guns, and nearly 25,000 children live in homes with guns that are loaded and unlocked.
- Make asking about guns typical and normal in your social circle–it really doesn’t have to be confrontational. If you start asking at every single first play-date or drop-off and you encourage your friends and neighbors to ask about how guns are stored, this will be the norm.
- Deflect some of this onto your pediatrician. Start a conversation with, “My pediatrician recommended that we ask about guns because there are unintentional gun deaths every day, even in our state and 1 in 4 children who lives in a house with guns say they have touched the gun without a parent knowing….”
- Advertise your commitment to ask about guns without judgment and use statistics. Link to the ASK campaign today on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or LinkedIn to get others doing the sam thing.
- If a family does have a gun in their home, make sure all the guns are stored unloaded and in a locked container while separately stored from the ammunition.
- Remind friends and family that children are always innately curious. Their interest in something they don’t know much about (guns) is normal. Curiosity drives development.
- Teach your children if they ever see or spot a gun to find an adult immediately. Teach them to never touch a gun and to run to find a grown-up if another child does. As a reminder, a BB gun is a gun, just like any other.
Be one of the parents who can easily say, “I ask” and spread the word today for all of our children’s safety — please “like” the Center to Reduce Youth Violence’s ASK Campaign on Facebook!