Injury Research and Policy Gun Research :: Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

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Gun Safety

Millions of children live in homes with guns. However, more than half of their parents do not keep their guns locked and unloaded. Guns lead to thousands of deaths and injuries among children every year.

Gun Safety

Americans own almost 200 million guns. However, a gun in the home can be very dangerous, especially for children. Every year, nearly 1,500 children die from guns and many more are seriously injured. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes the best way to prevent gun-related injuries to children is to remove guns from the home. However, if you choose to keep a gun in the house, it is important that it is unloaded and locked, and the ammunition is stored and locked in a separate location.

Gun-Related Injury Facts

  • Nearly 1,500 children younger than 18 years of age die from shootings every year.
  • More American homes have guns than dogs.
  • 1 in 3 families with children have at least one gun in the house. There are more than 22 million children living in homes with guns.
  • Most of the victims of unintentional shootings are boys. They are usually shot by a friend or relative, especially a brother.
  • Half of all unintentional shooting deaths among children occur at home, and almost half occur in the home of a friend or relative.

Myths About Guns

  • Most parents with guns think their children do not know where they hide them. However, 8 in 10 first graders know where their parents’ guns are hidden.
  • Many parents think their children are not capable of firing a gun. However, children as young as 3 years are strong enough to pull the trigger of most American guns.
  • Parents believe their children know the difference between real guns and toy guns, but few children younger than 8 years can tell the difference.
  • Parents often believe their child would not touch a gun because “he knows better.” However, studies have found that most children will handle a gun if they find one, even if they have been taught not to.
  • Some parents consider non-powder guns, like BB, pellet, and paintball guns, to be toys. These guns, which can fire at the speed of traditional guns, lead to nearly 22,000 injuries each year, especially eye injuries.

Gun Safety Tips

  • The best way to keep your children safe from guns is to remove all guns from the home.  
  • If a gun is in the house, always keep it unloaded and locked. It should be out of reach and sight of children.  
  • Keep ammunition and guns locked in separate locations, not together.
  • Safety devices, including gun locks, lock boxes and gun safes, should be used for every gun in the house.
  • Storage keys and lock combinations should be hidden from children.
  • Before visiting friends and relatives, ask if they have guns in their homes. If so, make sure they keep their guns unloaded and locked as well.
  • Never leave children unsupervised in a home with a gun.
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