We at Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation, and many other organizations around the country, would like to remind every parent that there are many dangers in homes. It is incredibly important that you ask about those dangers before you visit a home with your children. Always ask about those dangers: Are medicines and toxins locked up? Will a responsible adult be present at all times? Is there a pool and will someone be watching? Can we please trade phone numbers in case of an emergency?
But one question that is all too frequently overlooked is: "Is there a gun in the home, and if so, how is it stored?"
It's not a hard question. And, no, it isn't invasive. I have yet to hear about a responsible person being annoyed by it. Anyone who respects the safety of children will understand.
Gun owners are not always forthcoming about their guns unless you ask about them. Up to 40% of homes in Oregon have guns, and a great many of them are kept unlocked and loaded. This includes homes with children or where your children may visit, including your friends and relatives, or the friends and relatives of your children's friends.
As we say over and over again at the Kid Shootings blog, "Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult." And yet, every day, I see dozens of articles where a person's loaded firearm got into the hands of a child or teen, who then took it too school, played with it, or discharged it unintentionally, injuring or killing themselves or others. And let's not forget the many cases where older kids took those unlocked guns and used them to purposely threaten, rob, injure, or kill.
Here is a very good publication put out by The Center To Prevent Youth Violence. In it you can find ways to start the conversation, representative facts and statistics about children and guns, how to spread the word, informative posters, templates to write your mayor or for a letter to the editor on the topic, and other things.
Facts from that publication (see publication p.7 for citations):
-- An average of 8 kids and teens are killed by firearms every day and 42 additional children and teens are seriously injured.
-- Studies show that between 33% and 40% of American households with children have guns
-- 1 in 4 kids and teens whose parents own guns say they have seen or touched a gun without their parents’ knowledge.
-- Almost 90 percent of accidental shootings involving children are linked to an easy-to-find, loaded handgun in the house.
-- 88% of the children who are injured or killed in unintentional shootings are shot in their own homes or in the homes of relatives or friends.
-- 42% of parents with guns keep at least one unlocked; 25% keep at least one loaded, and 14% keep one unlocked AND loaded.
-- Over 75% of kids in homes with guns say they know where the gun is hidden.
Remember, this is the LIFE of your child we are talking about. It only takes a moment to ASK.