It’s national selfie day (??? an excuse for my millennial behavior) and it’s also Just ASK day (smart stuff), hence the image I snapped this morning. I spent the morning today at KING5 news making some TV segments encouraging us all to ask about firearms when we drop our children and teens off for playdates, sleepovers, camps, and fun. Although it seems awkward at first blush to ask how a firearm is stored at a home of someone you love or someone you hardly know for that matter, I’m convinced it’s time to make it the norm. Weird, I suppose, to ask something that may feel imposing especially when someone is graciously taking in your little rugrat for dinner or soccer or a sleepover or a trip to the beach…the reality is this: 9 out of 10 parents don’t mind being asked about firearms. And ensuring that our children can’t get their hands on firearms at the wrong time is something we all work on.

Just ASK about firearms in the home. Every time. Make sure if firearms are in the home they are stored unloaded and are separate from ammunition. Ideally, firearms should be in lock boxes and/or have trigger locks

The statistics are persuasive: 1 in 3 children lives in a home with firearms, 3 out of 4 children between age 5 and 14 years knows where firearms are stored, and data finds that children and teens’ profound and enviable curiosity leads them to not only pick up a firearm when they discover it but that almost half of children will pull the trigger. Unintentional injuries from firearms kill children at alarming rates and 80% of the time it’s in the home. Although the leading cause of firearm related deaths are secondary to teens taking their own lives, unintended injuries from firearms are preventable.

If anyone in your home is depressed or suicidal consider getting firearms out of the house. Data in King Country find death from intentional firearm use/suicide rates are nine times higher in homes where children and teens have access to firearms.

Before I went on TV this morning I read all sorts of media coverage of ASK day — including the stories from parents who have lost their children to firearm tragedies. It’s crummy stuff to read about, especially as we think on and mourn deaths across our nation on a near daily-to-weekly basis secondary to firearm tragedies of all kinds. This week in Seattle is no exception.

I’m just saying this: let’s just make this asking about firearms standard so there’s no barrier to entry. Let’s talk about it like we talk abut food allergies and booster seats and seat belts and life jackets and mom guilt. Let’s just acknowledge that we have lots of firearms in our midst and NO ONE wants a child to die from a firearm tragedy.

Sample Scripts For Asking About Firearms At The Next Drop-Off

  • “Thanks for taking my 10 year-old baby for the night — he loves spending time with your son. I always ask this, do you have firearms in your home? If so, are they stored in a locked location that is in a different place than the ammunition?”
  • “I feel nervous asking about this but I’m hoping to make this a norm — do you have firearms in your home? I don’t want our lovelies to get anywhere near them. If you do have them are they in locked location and stored unloaded?”
  • “I’m upset about all the new of firearm tragedies we keep hearing about but I know so many of us have firearms in our homes. I’ve committed to working on improving the safety where all of our children play. Do you have firearms in your home? If so, are they stored in a locked location separate from the ammunition?”