In my next in the series about gun safety reform, I want to write about kids shooting other kids with unsecured guns- particularly kids playing with friends. Why not ASK if there is a gun in the homes where your children and grandchildren play? It's an awkward question but a necessary one. The above video is from the site of the ASK campaign, a Brady Center campaign. Given the number of accidental deaths of children in America due to gun discharges why wouldn't we make this part of our every day practice? Asking could save the life of your child or grandchild. Asking equals safer homes and communities for children. I just wrote about safe storage of guns and deaths and injuries to children where that did not happen. In some cases, the gun discharges and kills the child holding the gun or a sibling. But some families experience the death of a child who was playing with a friend.
Check out the ASK campaign for a lot more information about how you can do this simple thing to save a life. As it says, "asking saves kids". There are a lot of other things we do to prevent serious harm or death to our children. We certainly find out if a parent will be home when our young children go to play. Will there be peanuts or other foods a child might have an allergic reaction to and become ill? Who is living in the home? If the parent will be driving your child, is there a child car seat or will they put the child in a seat belt? Will parents supervise an activity taking place at the home or while your child is with a friend? Is there a dog in the home that could be a danger or frightening to a child? Is there a swimming pool? If so, is it fenced in and if the kids swim in the pool, will an adult be there with the children? Are their poisonous or other dangerous materials around in the home?
Our children are our most important resource not to mention beloved by their families. We can't do enough to protect them from harm. So asking a simple question is not too much to ask.
From the ASK website linked above:
- 1.7 million children and teens live in homes where guns are not locked up securely
- more than 18,000 youth are injured with guns in one year in America
- guns are the 2nd leading cause of death among children and teens ( including homicides and suicides)
From the Childrens Defense Fund which releases an annual report about children and guns:
U.S. children and teens are 17 times more likely to die from a gun than their peers in 25 other high-income countries combined.
Why then, given the facts, are we not more alarmed about the rate of gun deaths among our own children and teens? These statistics are more than frightening. When children die from other causes, we rush to prevent the next child from dying. We take products off the market. We admonish parents to heed safety advice and change the way they do things in the home. We have public safety campaigns. Where are our leaders when it comes to protecting our children from a national public safety problem? Where are responsible adults and parents/grandparents? Guns in the home are a risk to our children and teens. The very least we can do is lock up the guns securely and ask about guns in the homes where children and teens hang out. There is no second chance.• U.S. children and teens made up 43 percent of all children and teens in these 26 countries but were 93 percent of all children and teens killed by guns.• In 2010, children and teen gun death rates in the U.S. were over four times higher than in Canada, the country with the next highest rate, nearly seven times higher than in Israel, and nearly 65 times higher than in the United Kingdom.• U.S. children and teens were 32 times more likely to die from a gun homicide and 10 times more likely to die from a gun suicide or a gun accident than all their peers in the other high-income countries combined
This is just one more common sense measure to take when considering safe homes and safe communities. This is something on which we can all agree. If you don't believe me, check out this list of tragedies of kids shooting friends with an unsecured gun in the home:
- 4 year old New Jersey boy killed 6 year old friend
- 12 year old Alabama boy kills best friend with BB gun
- Ohio 11 year old kills best friend with gun
- 10 year old Alabama boy shot by friend who was putting hunting rifle away
- 13 year old DC boy killed by handgun while playing with his friend
- 10 year old California boy shot with handgun found at home of friend
Do I have to go on or will you promise to ask if there are guns in the homes where your children/grandchildren and teens hang out? There is a pledge on the ASK website. Please take the pledge. It could save a life and if you ask, others will follow, saving more lives. I have friends who have lost children from gun accidents suffered while playing with guns at the home of a friend. Even years later, the grief never goes away. So, for them and the thousands of others who have suffered from the loss of a child from an avoidable accident, please ASK. This is simple. Let's get to work.