Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Study Suggests Many Parents Fool Themselves About Firearm Safety

This study confirms a few things I recall from childhood so pardon me for lecturing:

In Harm's Way: Guns and Kids

By Sandra G. Boodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 30, 2006; Page HE01

Gun-owning parents who think their children don't know where firearms are kept or haven't handled the weapons without permission may be in for a disturbing surprise.

A new study involving 201 parents and an equal number of their children has found that 39 percent of kids knew the location of their parents' firearms, while 22 percent said they had handled the weapons, despite their parents' assertions to the contrary. Parents who had talked to their children about gun safety were just as likely to be misinformed about their children's actions as those who said they never had discussed the matter.

"Children are really curious and have lots of things in their home that parents have no intention of letting them find -- but they do," said Matthew Miller, associate director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and co-author of the study in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The gun safety study is the first to compare the responses of parents and their children, ages 5 to 14, who were interviewed separately.

"Adolescents act impulsively, whether or not they have psychiatric problems," Miller said, noting that studies have found that a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide and homicide, as well as accidental shootings. "It's up to parents -- not children -- to provide a safe environment."

He advises parents who don't want to part with their guns to lock unloaded weapons in a place separate from ammunition, which should also be locked. Guns should be accessible only by a key the parent carries at all times. If guns are stored in a safe with a combination, only parents should know the combination.

"You want to make it as hard as possible for your kid to get that gun," Miller said.

Relying solely on strategies that seek to dampen the natural curiosity of a child, such as telling children guns are dangerous, or assuming that a child will be unfailingly obedient and never touch a weapon if he finds one, is ineffective at best, Miller said.


I ran across the place where my mom's handgun was kept when I was 10. Did I tell an adult? No. I would have gotten in trouble for being in my parents room without them being present. Did I pick it up? No. Why? Because to me the gun was less interesting than the Christmas presents I was trying to find.

Guns weren't taboo at my house. I'd been shooting for 2 years at that point. I'd been through and passed state regulated gun safety courses and cleaned a lot of guns by then. So I tended to equate guns with work and studying ie lost play time.

I was taught gun safety by both sets of parents. My son's school started teaching the Eddie Eagle gun safety stuff the article mentions in the second grade. Which is when I started teaching him the hows and whys behind the rules.

Now here is my point. If you own a gun and have kids they will find it. Period. End of story.

Trigger locks are a good way to prevent your child from actually firing the gun but hands on parental education is the only way to remove the desire for them to pick the gun up and goof around with it in the first place. If you can't do that you have two choices: get rid of the gun or put a trigger lock on it, lock the gun up, and then lock the keys up elsewhere. The second option has a side effect of making a gun a lot less accessible for home defense.

For non gun owners the Eddie Eagle method of kids telling an adult whenever they see a gun can work. But parents have to make a point of knowing which houses their kids go to have guns and how they are kept. Parents that are irresponsible gun owners are also irresponsible parents. So your kid doesn't need to be in that house anyway.

Free Gun Locks: Project ChildSafe

Thats it. I'm finished preaching for now.