Gunfire kills or injures more than 7,000 American children each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This staggering number can be attributed to children having access to weapons without the emotional, social and physical maturity to control a gun.
The news is filled with stories of one child accidentally shooting another. In the first week of June 2018 alone, 16 children were shot by themselves or other children, resulting in five deaths. In all cases, no evidence of proper firearm storage was found.
As a parent and responsible firearms owner, safe storage of your guns is a priority. Read on to learn about gun storage solutions for the safety of children.
Adults Are In Charge
As the adult firearm owner, safety is your responsibility. You must ensure that guns in your home are always inaccessible to children or other unauthorized persons. Hiding a gun in a closet, drawer or on top of the refrigerator is not safe storage.
You must employ precautions to safeguard against unauthorized use. Safety guidelines include:
- Firearms are stored in locked gun cabinets or safes
- Firearms are stored unloaded
- Disassembled firearms parts are securely stored in separate locations
- Ammunition is stored separate from firearms, also in a locked cabinet
- Double check firearms to confirm that they are unloaded when you store or remove them from storage.
- Keys and combinations are kept out of the hands of children.
If your primary use is for sport or hunting, the safest place to store your guns in a safe. If your primary use is for home or self-defense, then you need to keep your gun ready and accessible to you only.
Safest Way to Store a Gun for Self-Defense
Carrying your gun on your person is statistically the best way to keep your gun from unauthorized use. With children, this may or may not be practical. At no point, even while you are asleep, should your gun be kept in a drawer or under a pillow.
A quick access gun safe is a practical solution. In a high-pressure situation, a combination lock may be too complicated. A good solution is a biometric locked safe that can only be opened with your hand.
Your House, Your Rules
Every adult in your house must agree to your gun rules. Methods may vary, but as a parent, you must insist that the following basics apply:
- Guns are locked up
- Guns are unloaded
- Ammunition is locked up
- Ammunition in a separate place from the gun
- Only adults know the location of the gun storage
- When handling or cleaning a gun, never leave it unattended
All adults in your household should have proper training and agree to your gun storage rules.
DO NOT trust “secret” hiding places or trigger locks. A little determination and teamwork and children can defeat any hiding place. Many trigger locks can be taken off or otherwise overridden with a little effort.
As a responsible parent and gun owner, your obligation to safe handling does not stop here.
Teach Your Children
Start as soon as your children learn the difference between “yes” and “no”. Natural curiosity about firearms is normal. Children and teens are easily tempted to play with guns.
Given two fingers, many children will turn them into play guns within moments. The impulse to play is natural. It there is a ball available, children will bounce it.
It is extremely dangerous when children find a real gun available and attempt to play with it. Start with these gun safety basics:
- Don’t go looking, or allow other kids to look, for guns in your house or any other house.
- If you find a gun in the house, or anywhere else, STOP! Do not touch it or allow anyone else to. Leave the area and tell an adult.
- Never to touch guns without an adult.
Your children should know and understand these four rules for gun safety.
- All guns, even toys, are treated as loaded.
- Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Even if your kids know what to do, do not trust them with firearms. Studies show that children still did the wrong thing when left alone in a room with a gun. Kids as old as 12 have a hard time distinguishing real guns from play ones.
Talk with your kids about the risk of firearms outside your home, in places they may visit or play.
Trust But Verify
Close to 30% of gun-owning parents thought that their children were unaware of their weapon’s location. When asked, 39% of the children knew exactly where the guns were.
Over one-third of the boys admitted to handling the household gun in direct contradiction of their parents’ claim they had never handled a gun.
Do not be fooled into thinking your child cannot lift or cannot fire a gun. It only takes about seven pounds of pressure to squeeze a trigger. A 14-month-old child able to pick up Cheerios between their fingers can certainly fire a gun.
A 16-year-old might have enough maturity to understand gun safety rules and use a gun without close adult supervision, but could they resist anger, despair or peer pressure with access to a gun?
Or worse could they keep their friends away from your gun?
Locked Firearm Storage Is the Only Place for Guns
No gun has ever hurt anyone while sitting in a drawer or hidden in the closet. Add human interaction and all bets are off. Accidents happen when firearms are loaded, unlocked and accessible.
As a gun owner and parent, you are responsible for the safety of your children and the use of your firearms. For your children to grow into responsible and safe gun owners, you must model good habits and guide their choices.
Start with proper storage and respect for firearms from the very beginning. Follow this blog for tips and advice on the best gun safes for your needs or comment below with questions.