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Parents: Are You Asking About Guns?

How one simple question could save your child’s life

  • June 26, 2017
  • By domesticshelters.org
Parents: Are You Asking About Guns?

Do you have pets? Billy’s terrified of dogs. Please don’t let him have anything with peanuts—he’s allergic. And, is there a fence around your pool?

As a parent, you have no problem covering the basics when you send your child to a friend’s house to play. But if you’re not asking about guns, you could be making a deadly mistake.

One in three households with children contains at least one firearm, according to the Pew Research Center, and many of those firearms are left loaded and accessible to kids. According to research from Everytown for Gun Safety, seven children under the age of 19 are killed with guns every day. One unintentional shooting of a child happens every 34 hours.

“If you look at the statistics, the most likely things a gun will do are nothing, or cause harm to yourself or someone in your family,” says Melanie Blow, chief operations officer of the Stop Abuse Campaign. “Having a gun in the house is very dangerous, particularly for children.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Offend

Despite the possible dangers, Blow acknowledges that some people will always insist on having a firearm in their home.

“Some people really, really rely on guns to feel safe, including many women I know who have been abused,” she says. “We recommend, if there is a gun in the home, that it be stored unloaded in a locked gun container and that the bullets are locked up separately.”

But even if you’re practicing gun safety at home or have banned them from your home, that doesn’t mean others do the same. That’s why it’s vital you ask about guns before allowing your child to go to someone else’s home.

“Some parents are afraid of offending other parents, but they shouldn’t be,” Blow says. “In a survey asking parents that very question, in excess of 90 percent of parents said no they wouldn’t be offended by another parent asking about guns in their home.”

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Blow suggests also talking to children about gun safety, but cautions against assuming that’s adequate protection.

“Research shows the likelihood of children walking away from a gun and telling an adult isn’t good. Developmentally, kids just don’t work that way,” she says. “Think of it this way, if your child had diabetes, you would teach him all types of things about managing his illness, but you would recognize he’s still a kid. At the end of the day, it’s the adults who are going to remind him to take his insulin.”

Blow says women should also keep in mind they are much more likely to be killed by an intimate partner if there is a gun in the home. Check out “When Abuse Turns Deadly” to learn more.

National ASK Day was on June 21, but you don't need a designated day to ask about unlocked or loaded guns where your children play. Mom Ashlyn Melton knows this all too well—read how she became an ASK Campaign spokesperson after her son Noah was accidentally shot to death at a friend's house when he was just 13.