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Firearm Safety

According to the most recent estimates by the Geneva based group, Small Arms Survey, there are approximately 270 million firearms in the United States. That’s about 88 firearms per 100 residents of the country. And while accidental firearm injuries have declined greatly over the last decade there is still much room for improvement. Many families have made the decision to keep firearms of one sort or another (hunting, sporting, defensive etc.) in their homes. With this decision comes the great responsibility of ensuring the safety of everyone in the home. There are many easy steps that one can take to practice safe firearm ownership.

One of the most important steps after choosing to keep a firearm in the home or not is education. There are many programs available geared toward both adults and children. A state required hunter safety course will cover many topics, from safety while hunting to safety in the home. More specific in home safety courses for both adults and children are available from the National Rifle Association, local gun shops, and various local police departments also offer safety courses. Constant re-enforcement of gun safety rules in the home is also important to ensure that children are aware of their role in keeping everyone in the family protected from firearm accidents.

Perhaps the simplest yet most important issue to consider when choosing to keep firearms in the home is the issue of proper containment. According to the CDC, suicide and accidental injury are the two most common occurrences of firearm related injuries and deaths in the United States among youth under the age of 20. Proper containment and control of firearms can be the most effective step in preventing both of these tragedies from occurring. While keeping guns and ammo stored in separate locations may be a good first start, storing firearms unloaded cannot always be enough to ensure the safety of the family. There are many safes and firearm locks available that use keys, combinations, or even biometric (fingerprint) recognition to keep firearms locked away from any and all unintended access. There are also cable locking systems available that prevent a firearm from being loaded, cycled, or fired all together. These containment systems can range in price from free all the way to many thousands of dollars, but regardless of what method one chooses, prevention of unintended access to firearms will go further than any other step one can take when making the choice to safely keep firearms in the home.

There are also many free resources available online or with local police departments. Check your local police department’s website to see if there are any upcoming safety courses in your area. Free locks can also be obtained through project child safe. The NRA and other organizations also offer free online resources.

Once the decision has been made to keep a firearm in the home, the next step must be ensuring a safe environment for each of the children and adults who live there. Responsible firearm ownership must be practiced at all times and should always involve all of the members of the household.

Written by Debbie King, C.P.N.P
On behalf of PAMPA

© 2011 Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
PAMPA is a pediatric medical practice in north Atlanta, Georgia consisting of twelve pediatricians, five nurses,
and four locations in Roswell, Woodstock, Atlanta, and Marietta. area.
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