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The American Academy of Pediatrics says a gun-free home is the safest home. But despite that recommendation, one third of American families own a gun and a whopping 40 percent of them don't keep their guns locked up, according to the U.S. Naval Safety Center (NSC). What's more, kids as young as 3 are strong enough to pull a trigger and kids younger than 8 can't tell the difference between a toy gun and a real gun.
The failure to lock up household guns can have tragic consequences, like this week's accidental shooting of a 2-year-old by her 5-year-old brother in Kentucky. The boy had received the gun -- a Crickett, marketed as "My First Rifle" and available in a slew of bright colors -- as a gift. The parents didn't realize that it was loaded.
According to the AAP, a gun kept in the home triples the risk of homicide. Suicide is also five times more likely if a gun is in the home. And children and teens commit more than half of unitentional shootings, according to the NSC.
Even if you don't keep guns at home, it's possible that your child may end up playing at a house where there are firearms. That's why it's critical that all parents know these gun safety rules and follow them at home -- and then check that other parents are following them as well.
1. Always keep the gun unloaded.
2. Treat every weapon like it could be loaded.
3. Always keep your gun locked away.
4. Lock and store bullets in a different place than the gun.
5. Hide the keys to the locked boxes.
6. Talk to your kids about guns; tell them to stay away if they see one and tell an adult.
7. Before sending your child to someone else's house to play, ask about guns in the home.
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