Guns: Would Your Child Play with One?

The vast majority of parents think their child would not pick up a gun if they found one, even though many parents have not specifically told their child what to do if they find a gun, according to a new study published in the February 2003 issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Authors of the study called They're Too Smart for That: Predicting What Children Would Do in the Presence of Guns, found that 87 percent of parents surveyed - regardless of gun ownership, geography, race, gender, education level, income or child age - believed that their children would not touch a gun they found. Researchers conclude that parents' unrealistic expectations of children's developmental levels and impulse control may influence gun storage decisions or the inclination to address gun safety issues with children.

Previous research has shown that nearly 50 percent of all firearms in homes with children are not stored safely -- either locked and out of reach, or with a trigger lock. All told, one in four homes contains a handgun. Whether you own a gun or not, talk to your children about firearm safety and consider these tips from the National Safe Kids Campaign:

What gun owners can do:

• If you have children in the home, any gun is a potential danger to them. Seriously consider the risks.

• Store firearms unloaded, locked up and out of children's reach.

• Store ammunition in a separate, locked location.

• Use quality gun locks, lock boxes or gun safes on every firearm. Gun locks, when correctly installed, prevent firearms from being discharged without the lock being removed.

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