Thinking about gun safety isn’t necessarily on the to-do list when trimming the tree and planning holiday meals; however, before inviting friends and family to your home this holiday season, make sure firearms are stored properly and locked.
Putting a firearm out of sight or out of reach is not safe storage and not enough to prevent the use by children or unauthorized adults.
“Those are the guns we’re most worried about, the ones that are unlocked and loaded,” said Emily Rae, MD, a behavioral health specialist at Gundersen Health System. “I want adults, parents, and caregivers to remember that even very young kids can fire guns.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about one in three homes with children in the United States have both secured and unsecured firearms. That’s about 4.6 million homes nationally with unlocked, loaded guns in them.
Many children cannot tell the difference between a real and toy gun, so double checking that guns are locked could help prevent injury or death.
“Parents think that kids understand that it’s not a toy, but a good number of them don’t understand that,” Dr. Rae said.
To safely store a firearm, keep it locked and unloaded, and separate ammunition when not in use. There are several ways to safely secure firearms, including cable locks, gun case, lock box, electronic lock box and full-sized gun safes. Hiding a firearm is not an effective safety measure.
“Parents will hide guns and they think kids don’t know where it is, but they do,” Dr. Rae said, adding that the leading cause of death in children is now by firearm. “They have such a curiosity.”
For more information about how to safely store a firearm, visit the CDC and The Firearm Trade Association.
Decorah man grateful for what he has despite losing finger
Movin’ & More with Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics
Man thankful for care team following life-altering accident
Project SEARCH students celebrate graduation and new jobs