Practice gun safety at home

Published 4:42 am Saturday, September 22, 2018

This column is written by Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal.

The recent firearm death of a 2-year-old child inside a Livingston Parish residence is a stark reminder about the importance of gun safety in the home. The Baton Rouge newspaper article concerning this tragedy goes on to state that at least 829 children in the United States got their hands on irresponsibly stored guns and shot themselves or other people between 2015 and 2017.

Each year in the United States, children are killed in accidental shootings and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 65 percent of them were in the family home or car. Additionally, the CDC estimates that more than 600 children are hospitalized each year with non-fatal unintentional shooting injuries.

There are many guides and resources concerning this issue and I have reviewed several of them. One website, offers practical advice for gun safety to help keep a family safe in their own home.

A key first step is discussing guns and gun safety with children. Help children to understand the difference between guns in real life and guns in movies or video games. Stress the difference between real damage and pretend damage. Teach children to have a healthy respect for guns and develop specific safety rules about when or if older children are allowed to handle firearms.

Make certain children understand what to do if they find a gun either inside or outside the home. Help them understand they should stop what they are doing, do not touch the gun, leave the area where the gun is located and tell an adult right away.

The website offers several tips which should be followed in order to keep children protected from accidental shooting inside the home, including:

  • Never leave a gun unattended where a child might find it.
  • Always keep guns locked in a secure storage location such as a gun safe or lock box.
  • Keep the combination or the location of the key to your storage location a secret from children.
  • Leave guns unloaded when not in use and never leave a loaded gun out so it can be touched or handled by a child.
  • Never conceal a gun under a mattress, in the sock drawer, at the top of a closet or so forth as a replacement for a locked, secure storage location.

In addition to these tips, I offer one of my own. Treat ammunition the same as you would a weapon and do not allow children to have access to it.

These are only a few tips for gun safety. Use common sense when storing or handling firearms and always err on the side of caution. We can’t be too careful when it comes to children and firearms.