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Gun Accidents Kill 500 Kids Each Year

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Advice every parent needs to hear about firearm safety.


This week, an 8-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old sister in California.

"It's a tragic case of a sibling who picked up a firearm, thinking it was a toy, pointed it at his sister and discharged one round from the firearm, striking her in the head," said Vacaville Police Sgt. Charlie Spruill.

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 that 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 that 39 percent of kids knew where their parents' guns were stored, while 22 percent said that they had handled the weapons despite adults' warnings to stay away. What's more, age was not a factor in whether children had played with the guns: Five-year-olds were just as likely to report doing so as14-year-olds.

Here are just a few heartbreaking cases:

• Four-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 to teach children that if they find a gun, to leave the area and inform an adult. But studies show that kids who take these classes are no less likely to play with guns than kids who don't attend the 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. 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; 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 that 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," adds Miller. "It's rare that doctors initiate this conversation, but they should.Also, [you should] ask the parents of your children's friends if they keep guns at home, and if kids will be playing where they're stored. 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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65 comments so far | Post a comment now
Rachel September 28, 2009, 5:12 AM

What a ridiculous piece. Just because there are idiots that choose not to handle their firearms in a safe manner (e.g., don’t keep them locked in a safe, etc.), doesn’t mean that if you have kids, you shouldn’t have guns. I grew up in a house with no guns, where all I learned was that guns were bad, blah blah. I don’t think I saw a live gun/rifle in person until my husband and I were married. He was getting ready to go hunting (new to me), and he opened his safe and pulled out his rifle. I froze and freaked out, honestly, at the site of the gun. This is what “guns are bad” will do to you. Teach your kids appropriate firearm handling and secure your weapons (up in the closet doesn’t count - get a safe). If you can’t afford a safe, you can’t afford a gun.

Debbie September 28, 2009, 7:23 AM

I think you have to take precautions with guns like most other things when children are present. Can’t store it loaded; can’t keep ammunition with weapons; lock them up.

My hubby & I were just discussing purchasing a gun for our home. Of COURSE I’d take a safety course. Of COURSE I’d learn how to use the weapon and store it properly and safely. And of COURSE I’d teach my children gun safety.

The same way I teach them not to play with knives (already in our home), fire (available via gas stove, matches, etc.), cleaners & other household liquids (using eco-friendly cleaners, perfumes, soaps & shampoos, etc.)

The truth is - we already have to be as careful with SO MANY things in our homes because of children’s natural curiousity - but not every accident can be prevented. And guns are NOT the only accident waiting to happen…

Surgere September 28, 2009, 8:54 AM

Another scaremongering article…
If you want a good starting point to see what dangers most affect children, please look up national statistics such as these:

zeb September 28, 2009, 8:55 AM

I was taught about firearm safety from so young an age that I can’t remember when it started. At the age of six, I was taught how to shoot a rifle. The problem here is not the guns, it’s the parents and the lack of education.

Doug September 28, 2009, 8:59 AM

Um…… If the numbers were correct, wouldn’t a person, trying to get a point across, post more than five cases to support their statements?

cowboy357 September 28, 2009, 12:22 PM

Yup always great to quote a number with no verifiable source.

Should I ask my neighbors if they have a car? How many kids die in auto accidents? How about 5 gallon buckets? perscription drugs?

The evil NRA teaches gun safety but “studies” show that won’t help…again no particular study is listed. Hmmmm I guess that sex ed should be eliminated too girls still get pregnant!

I grew up with guns and so have my kids. I’ve taught them at an early age what guns can do and how to safely handle them and low and be hold what a miracle they have not shot anybody or themselves. Guess they got missed in the study.

What I still can’t understand is if no one needs guns for protection why do states with right to carry have lower crime rates and why are the mass shootings always in “gun free” zones?

cowboy357 September 28, 2009, 12:43 PM

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.

So what percent of 1.7 million is 500?
Or better yet what percent of 200 million?

And just a guess…the author is not pro life.

dan September 28, 2009, 12:43 PM

There are about 700,000 doctors in the US and 120,000 patients die at the hands of doctors. There are 80 million guns in the US and only 1500 die from that. Lets BAN doctors!!!

chiming in September 28, 2009, 10:44 PM

and ever see the stats on how many SWIMMING pools kill children every year? It’s far safer to let your child go to a house with a gun than a swimming pool.

Mark September 29, 2009, 3:32 AM

Factually deficient hit piece from opening title to closing line.
Actual number of accidental deaths for children ages 0 through 14: 54 SOURCE
I will accept advice on firearms from The American Academy of Pediatrics when they accept advice from me on the practice of pediatrics.
Medical doctors need to stay in their area of expertise. The area of firearms is not it.
The same goes for the author of this article, also, when she recommends that people render their firearms into oddly shaped clubs by locking both the firearm and the ammo up in separate locations, thus making it useless for its intended use as a tool with which one can use to defend the family.

lilikindsli September 29, 2009, 7:45 PM

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lilikindsli September 30, 2009, 1:21 AM

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lilikindsli September 30, 2009, 12:34 PM

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lilikindsli September 30, 2009, 9:51 PM

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Globals October 2, 2009, 7:40 PM

all good things

Globals October 3, 2009, 12:29 AM

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Romase October 3, 2009, 6:06 PM

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Romase October 3, 2009, 10:45 PM

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gratis cat October 20, 2009, 9:02 PM

We all know it’s easy to buy guns in America. How easy? Can Crazy People Buy Guns?

Lenny November 14, 2009, 8:53 AM


Liberals are such morons and hypocrites!

Over 200 million guns in the USA and only a few hundred accidents per year? WOW…sounds like an epidemic.

According to Safe Kids USA, more than one million children, ages five and under, are accidentally poisoned each year; 40 percent of these are from prescription drugs and other medications.

Non-pharmaceutical products such as cosmetics, cleaning substances, plants, foreign bodies, toys, pesticides, art supplies and alcohol are responsible for 56 percent of poisoning exposures for children under five years of age.


You might ask yourself this question (if you are intellectually honest):

Why don’t Liberals want to ban common household poisons and chemicals if indeed they care so much about children’s safety?!

And the answer is:

They don’t! They just hate guns, and that is their real agenda…pure and simple. The proof is what they fight against and what they don’t fight against.

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