The Truth About Guns

A recent report claims that half of all American households own firearms. There’s no way to know whether this number is accurate since it’s based on self-reporting, but if it’s even close we need to look at what that means for our kids.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit I’ve never owned a gun. As far as I know, none of my close friends have guns. I’ve never knowingly sent my kids off to play at homes where guns are present. And I’ll say it before you do — I’m very naive.

When my own were small guns were something I never thought about. I worried about play dates with families who might be physically violent. Families who might abuse alcohol or drugs. Families who didn’t share our family’s values. But it never occurred to me that a child of mine might encounter a dangerous firearm in someone else’s home.

HELLO! Wake up! The CDC says that more than 1.7 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked guns. More than 500 children die each year from accidental gunshots. Some shoot themselves, while others kill friends or siblings after finding a loaded gun.

Our kids need to know this stuff to stay safe. We need to teach them. So here’s the truth about guns:

1. Guns are dangerous.

2. Guns can kill you.

3. Never, ever touch a gun.

4. Do not play where there is a gun.

5. If someone shows you a gun, get a grown up right away. Even if the person tells you they won’t like you or won’t be friends with you anymore.

6. Never, ever point a gun at anyone. Even a toy gun.

Ask the parents of your children’s friends if they keep guns at home and if kids will be playing where guns are stored. Don’t worry about appearing intrusive. It’s better to seem pushy and be safe.

I didn’t. I was lucky.

More than 500 families a year aren’t so lucky.



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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?

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