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On Ask Day, June 21, the American Academy of Pediatrics Reminds Parents to Ask About Guns Where Their Children Play

6/19/2018

According to the CDC, about 78 children, teens and young adults are injured and killed every day by guns

Firearm injuries are one of the top three causes of death among children and teens. On the first day of summer, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is urging parents to ask a simple question before sending their children over to play: “Is there an unlocked gun in your house?”

“About one-third of families in the U.S. have guns in their homes,” said Alison Tothy, MD, FAAP a pediatric emergency medicine physician in Chicago, and an AAP spokesperson. “When guns are in the house, we need to make every effort to keep kids safe. That means locking up guns and keeping ammunition safe and separate from the guns and locked up as well.”

“Gun injuries are often fatal. 100 percent of them are preventable,” said Dr. Tothy.

The AAP has a Video News Release on gun safety for journalists, including interviews and b-roll.

The ASK Day Campaign, led by the AAP and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, is held every year on the first day of summer —June 21— to help keep children safe from guns in their community.

The ASK Day campaign urges parents:

  • If your child is going to a home where he or she hasn’t been before, ask if there is a gun in that home.

  • If the answer is yes, ask how the gun is stored.

    • It should be stored in a locked location and unloaded.

    • Ammunition should be locked up separately.

  • If you are not comfortable with the answers, invite the other child to play at your house instead.

“If there are unsecured guns in the house, you can’t assume your child won’t find them or won’t touch them,” said Colleen Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP, president of the AAP. “Young children are naturally curious and are often unable to remember or follow safety rules. Adolescents can be impulsive. When these characteristics are combined with access to firearms, the consequences can be tragic and permanent. Asking this simple question—is there an unsecured gun in your home—is an important step every parent can take to help their kids stay safe.”

A study published last year in Pediatrics showed families who were encouraged to use ASK Day materials were more likely to ask about gun safety. Research on the importance of gun safety is also persuasive:

  • Every day—according to a CDC database—there are an average of 12.03 deaths of young people age 21 and younger due to firearms and 66.58 injuries.

  • An estimated 38 percent of American households own guns, according to a 2004 national firearms survey. Nearly 1.7 million children live in a home with a loaded, unlocked gun. Every year thousands of kids are killed and injured as a result.

  • Firearms are a highly lethal method of suicide with a mortality rate around 90 percent. Parents should keep guns locked away, so teenagers cannot get hold of them without adult supervision.

  • The presence of a gun in the home of an adolescent increases the risk of suicide even in the absence of a psychiatric diagnosis, but it is especially critical to remove guns from the homes of teens who are depressed.

  • The safest home for a child is one that doesn’t have a gun. If there are guns in the home, evidence shows that the risk of injury or death is greatly reduced—by up to 85 percent—when they are stored unloaded and locked, with the ammunition locked in a separate place. 

For more information and ASK Day resources from the AAP, including infographics, parent-friendly articles, videos and other materials, visit the Gun Safety Campaign Toolkit. Additional resources are also available at www.askingsaveskids.org.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds