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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
Mike the Limey August 2, 2008, 7:58 PM

“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.”

Cite the “studies” or I’ll call you a liar.
The same goes for where you get the “500 kids a year” figure: how old were some of these “kids” & what criminal activities were they involved in a the time?

Tom August 2, 2008, 10:19 PM

Sorry Momlogic, but you’ve blown it. To present grossly exaggerated statistics is akin to lying, which is totally illogical. Perhaps you’d like to respond to all the readers comments and perhaps even print a retraction or at the very least an apology for insulting our (logical) intelligence.

fsilber August 3, 2008, 12:28 AM

If you don’t think you’ll have time to load you gun when you need it, what makes you think you’ll have time to get to it? If you think you may need it on a moment’s notice, then _carry_ the darn thing on your belt!

Richard August 4, 2008, 6:49 AM

I had a shotgun in my bedroom from the time I was 15, I was the only one in the house with the key. Before that, I had a .22 rifle in the same situation from the time I was 8. The ONLY things I shot at and killed were a few birds, a frog and a deer. It all revolves around teaching responsibility for your actions and respect for tools and their proper uses. Without that, anything can be a weapon to accidentally kill someone. STOP BLAMING THE GUN.

Wildfire August 4, 2008, 10:53 AM

If a person reads this Anti-Freedom Nazi’s article, and simply applies logic, even using the author’s fabricated numbers, the ignorance of the writer becomes glaring.
Let’s pretend the author wasn’t lying and see what logic reveals, shall we?

“1.7 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked guns.” “More than 500 children die annually from accidental gunshots.”
If you had a group of 1.7 million kids, and you killed 500 of them a year; it would take THREE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED YEARS (3,400 years) to kill them all.
Or to put it another way: If each year all homes that had a child living with a loaded and unsecured gun gave you a dime; and each time one of those children was killed (we’re using the writer own numbers), you gave the family that dime back.
Each year they would give you $17,000 and you would give back $5.

The writer also claims there are approximately 70,000,000 homes with guns and 500 children are accidentally killed by guns every year. (Never telling how OLD those “children” are to get the number 500 or the SOURCE of the number)
So let’s put the liar’s, I mean, “author’s” numbers into perspective:
Using the writer’s own numbers: If each home in America with a gun gave you a dime; and when a child was accidentally killed by a gun; you gave back a dime.
You’d receive $7,000,000 (That’s SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS) while paying out $5.
Note to the author of this article: If you must LIE to make your position seem “reasonable”, maybe it’s time to rethink that position.

louise August 4, 2008, 11:39 PM

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.

intheknow August 8, 2008, 8:17 PM

Doctors kill more people then that every year.Prohibition is no replacement for gun safety education

observerist August 9, 2008, 7:50 PM

Guns are great. And they’re dangerous. They are designed to be.

Kids are great. And they’re dangerous. They’re not designed to be, but things happen.

Kids and guns should be secured from each other, except when the responsible parent is involved.

If I have kids, you damn betcha I’ll have a loaded pistol in the house. To protect my family from the goblins out there.

Michael  August 27, 2008, 8:01 PM

Ok all you Nazi firearm retards.

Here are the FACTS from the CDC:

In the Year 2005 (the latest year such data is available), exactly 404 children under the age of 14 died from a firearm.

I’m glad that I’m a rich liberal who lives in California. All you inbreds can go shoot each other for all I care, I wouldn’t let you or your cretins near my children anyways.

Michael  August 27, 2008, 8:09 PM

Also, there were a total of 6,694 deaths in the year 2005 for the age group between 0 and 14, so the 404 that died as a result of stupid ignorant adult’s allowing them to possess handguns, represent 6.03% of all fatalities.

One of you inbred’s made the claim that your trailer park’s staircase was a bigger risk to your ugly kids pathetic lives, and statistically, that is in fact wrong. But maybe your double-wide is particularly susceptible to accidents, I dunno…I didn’t know trailer’s had two stories either, so there is much I’m ignorant about the trashy redneck way of life.

William C. September 2, 2008, 9:00 PM

Being a 13-year-old, one who has been shooting for most of his life, I felt obliged to comment on this posting. Every time I lay my finger on the trigger guard of a firearm instead of the trigger, I feel grateful that I was taught safety. Several instances come to mind where proper safety procedures and practices that I utilize have prevented a dangerous unintended discharge.

The simple solution to deaths and injuries caused by children mishandling firearms is to teach them firearm safety when they’re mature enough. Before that time, keep the firearms locked up in a safe or equivalent, hidden from view. Have them develop a sense of respect for firearms to supplement proper safety procedures and help beat out modern Hollywood gun culture.

Also, I’m glad that everyone detected the false statistics and bias at work here. Y’all win a cookie.

jerry hudson October 6, 2008, 10:52 AM

I have been a police officer for 37 years and have raised 5 children. I have always had guns in my home. they were put out of infants reach, but i made an agreement with the kids as soon as they were old enough to understand: anytime you want to look at one of my guns, you just ask me, and no matter what i am doing, i will quit and show it to you under supervision. Sometimes this was not convienient for me, but it was worth it. There is no temptation to “sneak” a peek or feel of a gun, all they have to do is ask. My kids are all gun owners now, and I have asked them to do with their kids as I have done with them.

anonymous November 7, 2008, 4:18 PM

I know there is a lot of different ways we can be killed, car accidents, doctor mistakes, drawning, falls, poisoning by gases, or liquids, suffocation,ettetera… but why adding being killed by a “GUN accident” when you can prevent that by NOT having one at home? why having another way of being killed when there’s enough danger at home?

alfonso caboto November 18, 2008, 5:19 PM

I think guns should be outlawed. So many innocent children die every year! It’s unfair for them to die so soon. The government should encourage the use of pepper spray for home and traveling protection. It may sting but, come on, and won’t end 500 kids’ lives!!

Amber - Buford, Ga January 5, 2009, 7:40 PM


Michelle M. January 19, 2009, 9:33 AM

You are all an embarrassment to your own children. Typical right wing America- ignore the danger it poses to your children in fear of losing grip on your guns. Pathetic. I would rather raise my children to be peaceful individuals who know that firearms are dangerous and more often than not, unecessary.
Shame on all of you.

brenda February 9, 2009, 7:09 PM

I am not anti- gun. I am pro safty.
Accidently being killed by a gun= is like being accidently being killed by a drunk driver- IT COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED and therefore is NOT AN ACCIDENT.

I grew up around my fathers guns- was told never to touch them and I didnt- however, one new years eve ( I was 13) my friend found a loaded pistol, brought it out to where I was and was joking around, pointing it at bothof our heads. even though I told her to put it back- she said she couldnt, it was already cocked. On her way outside to release it- it went off- bullets went all through my parents kitchen slicing cubards and windows along the way. we got lucky. my parents were not smart- yet they KNEW I would never touch the gun- which I didnt= what they didnt count on is my best friend getting ahold of it- being curious as kids will do.

Galina February 24, 2009, 12:12 AM

i am doing an investigative paper on guns and childtren. i like this article because, to me, it pretty much says not to have guns in the house for the sake of children because they will find them and there will be consiquences where the children would end up shooting either themselves or others around them. i think that its irresponsible of parents to leave their guns lying around the house LOADED. parents should unload their guns and hide them in a safe and hide the bullets at another place. my dad has guns, but they are unloaded and hiden and the bullets are at a different part of the house. i dont know where they are hidden and i dont want to know. some people are just stupid at some things, especially leaving their guns around where little kids who dont know better find them.

BOWTECH777 March 13, 2009, 11:33 PM

We had aattempted home invasion / robbery that was thwarted because I had a firearm, no telling what would have happened if I did not have it, me and my family might not be here today if we didnt have one.
Keep them away from children locked up and out of reach

English March 26, 2009, 7:59 AM

i think guns are bad

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