[member-grid items=” Ted Humphry” perrow=”4″ linkprofiles=”1″ /]On the Northcoast many families have firearms in the home. Going through a normal day’s activities, guns can be seen on policemen or other law enforcement officials and occasionally in vehicles driven by citizens. Anyone who goes to the movies or watches television sees firearms in use. Guns are certainly part of our society.

Unfortunately, sometimes guns are used in ways unintended by their owners. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports the rate of suicide is five times greater in homes that have guns than homes that don’t. Every day in the United States sixteen people under the age of twenty are killed and many times that are injured by guns. In the U.S. for every intruder or attacker who is killed by gunfire, over forty family members or friends are fatally shot or die by suicide or homicide.

There are important steps you can take to change these statistics.

If you don’t own a gun…..or if you do:

  1. Talk to your children about the risks and realities of injury by gunfire.
  2. Point out, that unlike the frequency in television, guns should never be used to settle disagreements in real life. The vast majority of people in real life do not carry a gun.
  3. Point out that gun safety is very important and people who have guns or want to have guns should take a course in gun use and safety.
  4. When your child goes to the home of a playmate, in addition to reviewing food allergies, physical restrictions, and bedtime routines if spending the night, ask if there are unlocked firearms in the home.

If you own a gun:

  1. Keep your gun locked up or with a trigger-lock locked in place. Do not simply hide your gun.
  2. Keep ammunition locked in a separate location from the gun.
  3. Make sure the keys or combinations to your guns and ammunition are kept in the hands of a responsible adult. If not in your pocket, the location of keys to firearms should be unknown to your children or at risk adolescents and adults.
  4. Teach respect for guns. Children follow your example. Never play or pretend with a gun, and never allow children to play with your unloaded guns.
  5. Take a course in hunter and gun safety if you’ve not done so. Your children need a course, too, if they will handle guns.
  6. Realize that inexperienced children may at some time be in your home or bedroom, even if they aren’t usually.

With the help of everyone, gun owners and non-owners alike, we can make our society a much safer place through appropriate education and proper gun use and storage.