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Third Grader Shows Off Gun at Recess

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Advice every parent needs to hear about firearm safety.

third grader aiming a gun

A third-grade student took a loaded handgun to a Pennsylvania elementary school Monday, school officials said. Penn Manor School District Superintendent Donald Stewart says, "He said he wanted to show it at recess."

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% of kids knew where their parent's guns were stored, while 22% 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:

- 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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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
hauknefr March 10, 2009, 3:02 PM

Of course parents should keep guns in their home with children present. If the gun is properly stored in a safe, and the ammo stored safely, there will be no problems.

Guns Save Lives March 10, 2009, 3:44 PM

“More than 500 children die annually from accidental gunshots.” How are you defining ‘children’? Many of these phony statistics count 24-year-olds as ‘children’. The age of a ‘child’ is 0-17. At 18 they become an adult.

How many of these ‘children’ are teenage gang bangers, murdering members of rival gangs?

“Here are more scary stats: Americans own 200 million firearms, and 35 percent of homes contain at least one gun.”

Why is that ‘scary’? Obviously you don’t fully support the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution, and nearly all State Constitutions. So biased.

“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.”

Yeah? So what? The number of actual children that die using a firearm is only a few hundred. Do the math… 1.7 million homes, which translates to about 3 million children… and only a few hundred die? This exposes the emotional and non-sensicle fear of anti-liberty folks.

“And if you do own a gun and think your kid won’t get to it, listen to this:”

If you train your children at an early age safe firearm handling you significantly reduce the risk of accidents. Gun accidents occur when parents refuse to teach their children proper gun safety, even if they do not own a gun.

At some point in your kid’s life they will likely encounter a gun - and you will not be there to step in. If your kid knows how to properly unload a gun he/she may stop a fatal accident. By the kid not knowing, you instill curiosity. But of course, “my child would never…”

Teaching your children about firearm safety is similar to teaching them about sex (and ideally abstinence before marriage). If you don’t teach them, they will learn it from someone else.

gjdagis March 10, 2009, 5:58 PM

YES, accidents DO happen, but there are many MORE dangerous things than guns lying around. The actual accident rate caused by guns is minuscule; far less than the number of times that a gun has saved a person from a violent crime, or death. If society would stop demonizing tools such as guns, children would be less prone to be so drawn to them in the first place. I never heard of a kid bringing a hammer to class to show it off to their peers !

Sharon Gallagher March 12, 2009, 6:12 PM

How many more tragedies do we have to witness — kids killing kids with guns they should not have. We are fighting to keep kids alive.

Sejxkfov June 28, 2009, 5:07 AM

suQ83o comment3 ,

tabletki na pryszcze April 3, 2011, 7:22 AM

Very interesting info, i am waiting for more !!! Keep updating your website and you will have a lot o readers

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