Pediatricians recommend asking about unlocked guns in the home before summer playdates

Pediatricians recommend asking about unlocked guns in the home before summer playdates. (FILE)

The American Academy of Pediatrics kicked off a campaign today to help keep kids safe this summer.

So far this year, at least 90 kids have gotten a hold of a gun and accidentally shot themselves of someone else. The AAP is urging parents to ask a simple question before sending their children over to a friend or family member’s house: “Is there a gun in your home?”

The pediatric group designated June 21, the first day of summer, as ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Day.

“Kids are going to be kids,” said Audrey Burro, an Edmond mother of two and a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. “They’re curious, they’re impulsive, and they don’t always make the right decisions about their own safety, so it’s our responsibility to keep them safe.”

Moms Demand Action is a grassroots movement that advocates for measures to protect people from gun violence. Burro says one way to prevent accidental shootings is to ask about guns at the home where your children play.

“We ask, does your home have peanut butter? Because it’s also a risk to a lot of children, and it’s just become commonplace,” she said. “Talking about unsecured guns in the home should also be commonplace.”

Moms Demand Action also has a campaign to reduce child gun deaths.

The AAP recommends:

  • 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.

Responsible gun owners usually don’t mind talking about how they store their guns and ammunition.

“They want to talk about responsible gun storage because it’s also important to them, so it’s never been a problem to have these conversations,” Burro said.

There are a variety of ways to safely store a gun in your home, from a simple lock or a handgun box to a larger safe.

“Don’t keep loaded guns around children, unsecured,” said Mike Rust, the general manager of H&H Shooting Sports in Oklahoma City. “That’s the bottom line.”

Rust says it’s also important to teach children that firearms can be dangerous in the wrong hands and should never be handled unsupervised.

“One of the first things a child should do when the find a gun unattended and there’s no adult around, is go tell an adult,” Rust said.

According to AAP, the risk of injury or death is reduced by up to 85 percent when guns in the home are stored unloaded and locked, with the ammunition locked in a separate place.

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