ASK day: Asking where your kids play can save lives
A gun, found by a child, can change lives forever in just a few moments. On ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Day, June 21, parents are reminded how important it is to ask other parents and caregivers if there is an unlocked gun in the home where their child is going to play.
One-third of households with children under age 17 have a gun in the home, so it’s likely that at some point your child will visit a home where guns are present. All parents/guardians need to be comfortable asking if there are guns in the homes their children visit and, if so, whether the guns and ammunition are safely locked and stored. This questioning has the power to save a child’s life.
Asking about an unlocked gun is simply another safety question
If you’re nervous about asking, consider this: Parents ask all sorts of questions before their children visit other homes. They ask about pets in the house, discuss allergies and Internet access, and ask questions about supervision.
Many of these questions may already sound familiar to you and be part of your normal routine:
- Will you be home?
- Is there a dog in your house?
- Will the children be playing in the pool?
- How many children will be there?
- Will they be on the Internet?
- Does my child need a helmet for bike riding or sunscreen for outside play?
“Is there an unlocked gun in your home?” is simply another question that should be on the list when you exchange numbers and talk through the details of your child’s visit.
Ways to start the conversation about guns in the home
Here are some suggestions for ways to bring up the topic:
- “I hope you don’t mind me asking a few questions about the kids’ safety.”
- “I want you to know I’ve spoken to my kids about not playing with guns but…”
- “I’m not judging anything. I just want to be sure my child is safe…”
- “I heard the most surprising fact from my child’s pediatrician…”
- “We all know how curious kids can be…”
- “Remember what we found in our houses when we were kids!”
- “I just read this blog post from our doctor’s office…”
When you have your answer
If the answer is “no” then you have one less thing to worry about. If the answer is “yes,” make sure all guns are stored unloaded and locked, ideally in a gun safe, with ammunition locked separately. If you have any doubts about safety, invite the children to your home instead.
Why asking about gun storage matters so much
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in the United States:
- Approximately one-third of homes with children have guns
- Nearly 4.6 million children live with unlocked, loaded guns
- More than one-third of unintentional shootings of children take place in the homes of their friends, neighbors or relatives
- Every day, 87 children, teens and young adults are injured or killed by guns
Safe gun storage practices
If there is a gun in your home, or another home your child will visit, the following storage practices from Safe Kids Worldwide are essential.
- Keep guns out of the reach and out of sight of children by storing them securely. Leaving guns unsecured — on a nightstand, table or other places where a child can gain access — can lead to injuries and fatalities.
- Store guns unloaded and secured with effective, child-resistant locks.
- Store ammunition in a separate locked container out of the reach and sight of children.
- When a gun is not being stored, keep it in your immediate possession and control at all times.
Children are curious and if they find guns, they’re likely to play with them. Be sure your child knows what to do if they encounter a gun – do not touch it, tell an adult right away. We urge parents and caregivers to take action and get involved to ensure children’s safety.