Read these 20 Gun Safety Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Child Safety Products tips and hundreds of other topics.
Your child looks to you for protection. Do your best to assure him/her that you are there to offer that protection. However, with so much violence on television and in films, it is inevitable that your child will still be exposed to some frightening images. Many of these disturbing images will include guns. It is incredibly important to teach children that violence in entertainment is not real. However, guns do cause real injuries. Remind them often that they should stay away from guns and alert you should they ever encounter one.
Educating parents about keeping guns safely is only half the battle. Teach your child gun safety as well. Should your child encounter a gun in the home, tell him/her to follow these steps. First, do not approach the gun. Second, leave the area where the gun was found. The third very important step is to tell an adult so that s/he can remove the gun.
Before you purchase a gun, you may wish to check with local police for advice on safe storage of guns as well as gun locks. Once you store your guns, be sure only you, the parents, know the location of the gun storage. It's also a wise idea to lock and store firearms and bullets in separate locations. Both these locations, then, should remain hidden from kids. Make sure your children cannot get access to firearm and/or ammunition storage keys. When handling or cleaning a gun, do so away from your kids. Never leave it unattended, even for a moment.
If you have a gun in your home, consider the advantages of using a lock box, which is a small safe with holes in the bottom that allows you to bolt it to your floor in order to store your handgun safely. This permanence provides an added level of gun safety, since it will not be able to be moved or stolen. There are a variety of lock styles available for the boxes, including a key, combination, keypad or a push button option. Some models also have cushioned insides and light up when the cover is lifted. The boxes range from $40 on up to $200 or more, depending on the feature and size you select. While this costs more than using gun locks and some of the other gun safety equipment choices, the added gun safety they provide make them worth the money.
Walk down the aisles of any toy store and you will find lots of play guns and other toy weapons designed for kids. Would you let your child play with these items? The decision is a very personal one, and there is no right answer when it comes to this issue. But if you let your children play with toy weapons or pretend to shoot at someone, it is important to use this as a teachable moment. Take the time to talk to your children about gun safety and to explain that while toys are for pretending, real guns can actually kill people. Explain to your children what they should do if come across a gun outside, at a friend's home or at school. Stress the fact that they should never pick the gun up as it could be loaded and could fire accidentally. When your kids understand the dangers guns pose, they will also be able to appreciate the importance of gun safety. And keep in mind that even if you veto violent play in your house, your children are still learning about guns on television and in movies, from friends and at school, so the more they know, the better able they will be to use good judgment on their own.
If you have a gun in your home and want to buy a lock to prevent access to it as part of your gun safety strategy, you have lots of options. Shop around at local gun stores, sporting good stores and firing ranges. Some locksmiths also sell gun locks and storage containers, and some discount houses carry gun accessories and gun safety equipment. Check out child safety websites, popular auction and shopping sites, and websites that sell guns and safety and locking products. Do your homework before you buy. With so many choices available, if you narrow in on what features you want, you will be able to pick the lock that will be best for your lifestyle and your safety needs.
Keeping your gun(s) out of the hands of kids is a top priority, if guns are to be kept in the house at all. There is a variety of gun safety equipment that helps you do just that. Rifles and other longer guns can be stored in gun safes. These provide protection with many sizes and storage capacities, locking mechanisms, and security features. Handguns can be kept in gun vaults or cases. These, too, provide secure storage of your weapons. Most of these safes and cases are built with sturdy steel and varying levels of locking systems from combination to electronic locks.
If you must keep a gun in the house, it is essential that you keep it unloaded and hidden from children. A further precautionary step you can take is to purchase a gun lock for your firearm. If for some reason your child does discover where the gun is being kept, a gun lock can give you peace of mind that even if s/he does touch the gun, it will not be able to be fired.
Firearms aren't the only dangers to be concerned about when it comes to gun safety. BB guns and pellet guns can also put your children at serious risk. Therefore, if you let them use these weapons, it is essential that you make sure they follow child gun safety practices on all occasions. Teach your children that these guns are not toys and can injure or even kill someone. Make sure your child never keeps the weapon loaded, and always have him or her point it away from people before squeezing the trigger. Further, stress the real danger of aiming at a hard surface, flat surface or water, all of which can cause the bullet to ricochet back at the shooter. Finally, remind your child not to reuse old pellets or BBs, as this can add to the danger. For more gun safety tips, sign up your child for a gun class at a local shooting range.
Never take gun safety for granted. If someone borrows your gun, don't just assume that they have removed the ammunition. This is how accidents can happen when people forget and don't check. Take the time to always re-check your guns before you lock them away to be sure they are empty. That way if by chance you child does get into your storage container, you know that you have an extra precaution in place. Then you can rest assured that your child gun safety steps are in place and your home is truly safe.
One weapon in the fight against gun accidents is to actually disassemble your gun before you store it. By taking it apart, you can prevent it from being used even if your child or anyone else gains access to it. To ensure gun safety, however, you should not store all of the pieces together in one place. Divide them up in different locked locations, so even if any portion gets into the wrong hands, it will not cause any harm. This is a particularly good option if you have a collectable gun or one that you don't use but don't want to part with. If you don't know how to take the gun apart yourself, ask your local gun shop or shooting range if you can pay them to do it for you. When this is done in conjunction with the proper gun safety equipment, you can make your home safer.
While you may be able to safeguard your house, you have no control when your child leaves to go to school. That's why you may want to talk to the principal or teachers there to find out what steps they take to prevent gun violence there. You can ask if the school has any policies for child gun safety in place. Ask what measures are taken to prevent children from bringing guns to school. Other concerns you might raise include how the school addresses special situations, what kind of crisis plan is underway for an emergency, and if there have been any acts of violence at the school over the last few years. The answers to these questions will hopefully put your mind at ease that everything is being done to keep your child safe. And if after this discussion you still have some questions or don't feel comfortable with the school's response to gun safety, don't be afraid to raise these issues at your next PTA meeting and also talk to your school superintendent or other Board of Education representatives.
Make your home safer by using a cable lock on your gun. This is a product that is typically made of vinyl-covered wire cables that you insert through the gun barrel or chamber. This inexpensive gun safety product, which can be purchased for about $20, blocks the cartridge and prevents it from moving into place to be fired. One benefit to using a cable lock is that some models have to be unloaded in order to put the cable on, which gives another level of security. You can opt for a universal style that will fit any gun, or select one that is made only for your specific type of design. The lock can be opened by a key or combination lock. For added safety, purchase a cable lock that has a tamper-resistant feature. If you have several guns, you can buy one cable gun lock that is extra long and can inserted through a few at once.
If you have a gun in your house, you want to take steps to be sure it is out of the reach of your children's hands. One tip to implementing a gun safety strategy at home is to avoid using cabinets and other storage containers that are small enough for children to pick up and move. Some good choices for weapon storage products would be a cabinet that is built into the wall, a safe that is installed rather than freestanding, or a box or case that is too heavy and big to lift and carry. Any option you choose should be locked securely, and if the lock has a key, be sure to put it somewhere your children can't find it. Some parents store the key outside of the house or else carry it with them. Other gun owners opt for a combination lock, digital keypad or push button lock that their children won't be able to access. No matter what method works best for you, always remember to store the gun without ammunition, just in case anyone does figure out how to get into the case. Then you can rest assured that your child gun safety plan is on the mark.
Who says you can't get something for free? When it comes to gun safety, some local police departments and gun safety groups feel that using gun locks are so important that they are giving them away to residents who need them. Most gun-lock distribution programs give away the cable lock styles. To find a free gun safety equipment program in your area, call your local police department. You can also find a free gun-lock effort locally through Project ChildSafe, which is a national effort that runs free gun-lock efforts throughout the country.
If you have a gun and don't want it anymore, consider getting rid of it safely through a community buy-back or amnesty program. This is an important step in ensuring child gun safety in your home. Buy-back days are designated times when people can turn their guns in to local police with no questions asked and have them destroyed. In exchange for the guns, some local programs offer small monetary incentives or gift certificates. If you don't want the gun anyway, this is a good alternative to purchasing gun safety equipment. While research has not proven whether these programs are effective in the fight against gun violence, if one life is saved in the process, they are worth the effort. To find out if a buy-back program exists in your area, call your local police station.
When it comes to child gun safety, it is important for parents to arm themselves with knowledge to help keep their kids out of harm's way. One way you can do this is to ask about gun safety in other people's homes before you allow your children to go there to play. While this could be an awkward conversation, it is also one that could have great implications. If your child was in a house that had a gun but was lacking the proper gun safety equipment, he or she could be in great danger. One way to ease into the conversation with other parents is to discuss other safety issues first, and then work into child gun safety. Other parents should appreciate your concerns since they also want to keep their children safe. If, however, you simply can't seem to broach the subject with some parents or can't get a straight answer about their position on gun safety that makes you feel comfortable, don't put your children at risk. Instead, invite the friends to play at your house where you won't have to worry.
Not only your guns should be safely locked away. When it comes to child gun safety, you should also store your gun cleaning supplies so that your young children can't access them. Since most of these supplies are poisonous, consider putting them with other dangerous household supplies in a locked cabinet. Or, if you prefer, place them in a locked box or safe with the gun itself. The important thing is to be sure they are located where there is no possibility that your children can get into them. By taking this important gun safety step in your childproofing routine, you can further help to keep your kids healthy and safe.
Each year many young people are killed as the result of gun violence or gun accidents. Become an advocate for tough gun law policies to help keep kids safe. You can email, write or call your local state and national elected officials to tell them how important gun safety is to you and your neighbors. If enough people speak out about the need for child gun safety, it will have an impact.
If you want to get involved in local gun safety efforts, there are many ways you can make a difference. For instance, help spread the word to other parents about the dangers guns pose and the importance of using gun locks and other gun safety equipment. You can also find out more about local and national groups that are fighting gun violence and volunteer to help them. Donate time and money to groups that are working to make communities safer. To learn more about national gun safety coalitions and ways you can get involved, visit Stop Handgun Violence, PAX or Project Safe Neighborhoods. You can also do a keyword search online or contact your local police department or governor's office and ask them if they know of any local initiatives.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|