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Gun Accidents Kill 500 Kids a Year

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Advice every parent needs to hear about firearm safety.


This week, a toddler fatally shot himself after finding a gun in his parent's car. According to Jackson, Miss., authorities, the 3-year-old was sitting in the car at a gas station when he found the gun in the front seat and shot himself in the face. Police questioned the boy's parents, but no charges have been filed.

But these aren't freak accidents. More than 500 children die annually from accidental gunshots. Some shoot themselves, while others kill friends or siblings after discovering a gun.

Here are more scary stats: Americans own 200 million firearms, and 35 percent of homes contain at least one gun. Last year, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found more than 1.7 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked guns.

And if you do own a gun and think your kid won't get to it, listen to this: A recent study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found 39 percent of kids knew where their parent's guns were stored, while 22 percent said they had handled the weapons despite adult's warnings to stay away. What's more, age was not a factor in whether children had played with the guns -- 5-year-olds were just as likely to report doing so as

Here are just a few heartbreaking cases:

-On July 19, 4-year-old Dylan Jackson shot himself to death after finding a loaded gun at a friend's home during a birthday party.

- A 3-year-old Southeast Washington boy shot himself in the foot and grazed his hand while playing with his father's gun -- which he found lying on the floor.

- A 2-year-old Tampa boy shot himself in the chest with a loaded 9 mm he found in his parent's couch while playing.

- Last February, a 13-year-old boy shot himself with a semiautomatic handgun in the home of his guardian, a Maryland police officer.

- The 10-year-old son of a New York City police officer died after shooting himself in the face with his father's loaded revolver. The boy found the weapon on a shelf in the basement while looking for a ball his mom had hidden.

Is there a way to stop these senseless deaths?

The NRA (National Rifle Association) sponsors classes that teach children if they find a gun to leave the area and inform an adult, but studies show kids who take these classes are no less likely to play with guns than kids who don't attend class.

"The biggest mistake parents make is assuming their child doesn't know where the gun in the house is," says Matthew Miller, associate director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. "Kids are smart and if they know there's a firearm in the house, they'll probably figure out a way to get to it."

"We can't expect children to act like adults," he adds. "Parents monitor their kid's diet, curfew, and social life but when it comes to guns, parents often just say, 'Respect the gun, it's off limits' or 'Guns are dangerous.' That type of parenting just doesn't work."

So should parents not tell kids if there's a gun in the home? "First, you have to weigh whether or not you really need a weapon," says Miller. "Do the benefits outweigh the risks? If the answer is yes, you must take safety precautions."

"Be honest with your children," says Miller. "Tell them there is a firearm in the home but explicitly explain that guns are fatal, no matter how children handle them. Don't keep the gun loaded and store the ammunition in a locked safe and carry the key with you at all times. Also, don't hide the combination and don't give it an obvious numerical password."

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pediatricians ask parents about guns in their home in an effort called 'Anticipatory Guidance' which attempts to keep children safe in cars, on bikes, and around swimming pools," says Miller. "It's rare that doctors initiate this conversation, but they should."

"Also, ask the parents of your children's friends if they keep guns at home and if kids will be playing where they're stored," added Miller. "Don't worry about appearing intrusive. It's better to seem pushy and be safe."

Do you think parents should keep guns in their home with children present?

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66 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous August 1, 2008, 1:36 PM

Personally it is not my pediatricians business if we own a gun. We have guns..neither are loaded. We have a trigger lock on them and we have the only keys. The handgun is also in a lock box. The 12 year old in the house has been taught gun safety his whole life..but we do not risk keeping them where he can get them or keeping them unlocked and loaded. Keeping a loaded gun unlocked in your home is asking for trouble. Some of the parents in this article were just plain stupid. One kid found a gun ON THE COUCH? People need to be smart. Educate your children on the dangers, but do not assume that that is enough to keep them from the temptation of playing with a gun if they happen across one. Also, small children are too young to comprehend the finality of death and clearly cannot be expected to stay away from guns because you say they are dangerous.

Ben Miner August 1, 2008, 3:06 PM

An unloaded gun is useless in a situation where you need to defend yourself or your family. There are plenty of affordable products on the market which keep a gun out of little hands but at the same time make it quickly available to authorized users.

Brenda August 1, 2008, 3:31 PM

When I was a youngster my Father was a police Officer, and he had his gun and his off duty revolver in the house locked up when he was off duty. He also taught my Sister and MYSELF RESPECT FOR WEAPONS. tHERE SHOULD BE NO EXCUSE IN THE WORLD FOR ANY CHILD BEING KILLED BY A GUN!!!!!

James Mullen August 1, 2008, 4:45 PM

No question any accident resulting in a death is a tragedy whether it’s a child or an adult. The article mentions that 500 children a year are accidentally killed with guns. However this is misleading since it does not define the age range for what constitutes a child for the 500 victims. The examples in the article are all 10 or under except for one case.

According to recent data from the CDC, there were 28 children under the age of 10 accidentally killed with a gun.

A child is far more likely to be accidentally killed by other things than a gun according to CDC statistics.

Over 1,400 children were killed by cars, almost 260 of those deaths were young pedestrians. Bicycle and space heater accidents take many times more children’s lives than guns. Over 90 drowned in bathtubs. The most recent yearly data available indicates that over 30 children under age 5 drowned in five-gallon plastic water buckets.

Parents should be carerful with what is in their home or accessible to children no matter what it is, but picking on guns alone is nothing more than firearm phobia.

Anonymous August 1, 2008, 5:34 PM

What the mainstream media (anti gun by the way) never tell you is how many lives are saved (yes even of children) because a homeowner had a gun and protected his family. Funny how those stats are rarely released.

Beware of how the anti gun crowd uses these stats of children to further their agenda. They need to give both sides.

CCW4ME August 2, 2008, 1:05 AM

Many more people die from doctor’s mistakes than from gun accidents, so before choosing a doctor maybe you should ask the person who works at your local gun store or range for advice. After all, why wouldn’t he or she know as much about medicine as your doctor probably knows about guns?

Andy August 2, 2008, 8:07 AM

Misleading leftist horse poop is all this article is. Anything to attempt to convince the American people to disarm themselves.

More children’s lives are saved by firearms every year that are taken by them. Why don’t you print that?

Don’t bother answering, the answer is obvious. It doesn’t fit into your narrow minded leftist view of the world.

Brent G August 2, 2008, 8:11 AM

The reason pediatricians do not ask parents of their patients whether a firearm is kept in the home is because such a question represents a “boundary violation.” Such violations, if reported, puts them in huge trouble with their local and state medical boards.

And why isn’t MomLogic talking about the milions of unregulated 5-gallon buckets found in hardware stores, home improvement stores, paint stores, etc? These buckets contain drywall mud, paint, paint thinner, etc., or are sold empty. These buckets, after use, are often kept around instead of discarded. More children drown in 5-gallon buckets each year than die from firearms accidents. But there is no oversight or regulation. Why the focus on firearms and not on an item that is killing far more kids?

Dean Weingarten August 2, 2008, 8:31 AM

Using children to promote a political agenda like this is “Political Pedophilia”.

It is always wise to be skeptical of politicians when they say “it is for the children”.

Charles August 2, 2008, 8:53 AM

And how did they come up with 500 kids a year? By including 15,16,17 year old gang bangers killed by other thugs or the cops.This is just another attempt to mislead the public and undermine the Bill of rights

Gun control is just elitest/raceist bravo sirrea

Wardaddy August 2, 2008, 10:20 AM

Nice to see that no one is buying into this poorly prepared propaganda piece.

Gives me hope for my offspring’s future with freedom intact or at least defensible against these ninnies.

Gordon August 2, 2008, 10:21 AM

According to the CDC, there were 229 kids (ages 0 - 12) killed in firearm related accidents during the 5 year period 2001 thru 2005. (The latest period for which statistics are available) That averages out to 45 per year, which is a far cry from 500. Of course, if you count every one from 0 to 45 as “kids”, you can get the 500 figure.

Laurie August 2, 2008, 10:24 AM

If there is going to be a gun in the house, everyone should learn gun safety. I think that learning to respect the weapon and it’s power and capabilities is important. A child thinks that guns are just toys, so you cannot blame them for messing around with them. The parents are the ones that are responsible for maintaining a safe environment. I mean, you don’t send your kids to play in the street and tell them to stay away from the cars that can hurt you. We teach them the rules, as with anything.
My 11 year old is at hunter safety classes today to get his hunting license. His shotgun is kept at his uncles house where there is a safe. I believe he is learning the correct way to handle a gun and the safety of others is just as important.

scott in Mt. Airy August 2, 2008, 10:25 AM

According to the CDC about one-tenth of that number of ‘kids’ (age 0 to 12) are accidentally killed by guns each year. To reach the magic ‘500’ number you have to include ‘children’ up to forty-four years old.

Liberals will always lie, cheat and steal the truth to push their Socialist, Communist agenda.

Anonymous August 2, 2008, 10:39 AM

What is really irritating to me is that some of these children are killed by guns at a friend’s house. Parents think that just because they don’t have a gun that their children will never be around them so they aren’t taught gun safety. I have grown up around guns and have always been taught not to touch them without an adult and to always treat a gun as if it is loaded! These are simple rules to teach children even if you don’t believe in guns or don’t own any! I have a 4 month old and he will get his first gun at the age of 5, as my husband and I both did, but he will receive lessons from as soon as he can understand at what is safe and what is not! These stories infuriate me!

Lysander August 2, 2008, 11:10 AM

Rights predate government. A right, akin to breathing, requires neither permission nor affirmation to exist. It exists, and is often most evident, while being violated. LIke it or not, responsibilities accompany rights. Guns, gasoline and drain cleaner are inherently dangerous. Adults must be responsible for keeping children safe. Punish the irresponsible adult, should children be injured with firearms.
“It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly.” - Henry George, American political economist (1880)

StarRider August 2, 2008, 12:11 PM

The CDC places unintentional firarm death for persons ages 0-18 in the U.S. at 154 for the year 2005, the latest year available on their search page.

Don’t child-proof the gun, gun-proof the child.

Tony G August 2, 2008, 12:19 PM

My poor children are aways in danger. Yes I have guns, a swimming pool, five bathrooms rooms, a boat, perverts in the area, and buckets in the garage. Should I put them in a five x five cage until they adults or should I let them experience life so they may grow up and be able to make safe discussions on there own, or let the goverment, and anti-gunners tell them where they may sit and stand.

Wazzu82 August 2, 2008, 2:51 PM

Dittos to you all!

These anti-gun wackos do not even take the time to analyze there own inflated data.

According to the article:
If the inflated number of 500 annually is taken as correct, that means annually only 0.00025% of guns cause children’s deaths.

If the inflated number of 500 is taken as correct, that means that only 0.029% of children in home with guns is killed annually.

These inflated numbers are tiny compared to deaths due to bathtubs, automobiles, 5-gallon buckets, swimming pools, watersports, etc.

Will these socialists and their failed feel-good ideas never stop?

CSR August 2, 2008, 7:49 PM

Maybe this page should be renamed MomIllogic.

My kids are at far more risk due to the stairs in my house, the pediatrician they visit, the pool in the backyard, the bikes they ride, and the cars they ride in than they are from the guns in my home.

It’s simple, really - if you have guns in the home, TEACH GUN SAFETY TO THE KIDS. Guaranteed to stop accidental gun deaths in kids - of which WISQARS reported there were 127 in 2005 (sorry, once you reach 18 you’re an adult - no 40 year old kids allowed!).

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