Thousands of children each year are injured or killed by guns not properly stored. Experts in the Doernbecher Children's Safety Center urge families with guns to store them unloaded and locked in places where children can't gain access.
They also recommend families follow guidelines suggested by the Asking Saves Lives campaign, which offers solutions to gun violence and urges parents to ask friends and neighbors whether there are guns in the house before allowing their children to play.
"Even children who don't live in homes with guns are at risk because a neighbor or friend may have an unlocked gun in the house," said Dana Hargunani, M.D., the center's medical director. "Parents should be comfortable asking about the presence of guns in order to truly keep their children safe."
More than 40 percent of American homes with children have guns that are kept unlocked and loaded, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. A gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a family member or friend than to be used in self-defense, according to Oregon Safe Kids.
Other statistics to consider:
• Nearly 8 children and adolescents were killed by firearms every day in 2003.
• 53 percent of parents say it never occurred to them to ask if there was a gun where their child played.
• 72 percent of parents would be concerned if they knew there was a gun where their child played.
• 97 percent of parents who owned a gun said they would not feel uncomfortable if asked by another parent about the presence of a gun in their home.
For more information about guns and children, visit www.paxusa.org/.