Kathryn Davis: Ask, ‘Is there a gun in your home?’
June 20, 2017
The issue of gun ownership is one of the most polarized issues in America. But no one wants to be at the hospital bed or at the funeral of a child victim of an accidental shooting. Parents asking if there is a gun in the home their children are visiting should be an everyday occurrence.
I recently helped out at a booth at the "Day of the Young Child and Keeping Kids Safe Carnival." I had the opportunity to talk with parents about "ASK," known also as Asking Saves Kids, cosponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics. ASK awareness day is today, June 21.
The ASK campaign is simply encouraging parents to ask if there are guns in the home where their children will visit, and if the answer is yes, confirming the guns are secured.
There were two very illustrative conversations I had with parents at the carnival. One mom assured me she always asks the question where her pre-teen son will be visiting. I asked if she felt awkward or hesitant to raise this issue. She smiled and said no, "I simply explain that I have one of the most curious kids around, and I worry if he had the chance to investigate or experiment with a gun, he probably would take the opportunity. This usually eliminates any hesitation or discomfort from the parent I am talking with." On the other hand, a dad assured me that his son knows better and would never touch a gun, period.
Parents ensure that kids in their care wear helmets and buckle up, they monitor their social media access. Asking about guns is just one more precaution today’s parents must take.
I had to ask, "Will he always obey you?" "Will he ever test the limits of your parental control?" "Do you think he might waver under peer pressure?" While I sensed this was not a welcome line of questioning, this dad admitted I had made a good point.
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Every day across America, nine children and teens are shot in unintentional shootings. Many of these youth deaths and injuries occur because parents, relatives or friends leave guns accessible to kids. The gun is in a purse, a glove compartment, under the bed, back of the closet, on the bureau or in the night stand drawer, or on a display rack, unsecured. One out of three homes with children has guns, many left unlocked or loaded.
I was encouraged by the gun owners who said they did have guns in their homes and took great care to secure unloaded guns. A wife of a police officer volunteered that she assures other parents that her family secures their guns in the home, preventing visiting parents from having to ask questions that may make them feel awkward.
ASK's advice for parents is to keep it simple and straightforward and grounded in the reason why you're asking in the first place, which is to keep your child healthy and safe. Parents ensure that kids in their care wear helmets and buckle up, they monitor their social media access. Asking about guns is just one more precaution today's parents must take.
Any accidental death with a gun is heartbreaking. I know this firsthand from a close friend's experience with this tragedy. The heartache seems somehow magnified when it is a toddler who finds a handgun within reach or a despondent youth takes their own life. Please, just ASK.
To pledge to ASK and learn about more ways to get involved in ASK, please visit http://www.askingsaveskids.org.
Kathryn Davis lives in Grass Valley.
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