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Guns in child’s home raise risk of suicide, unintentional death :

June 21, 2018

If he could, pediatrician Eric J. Sigel, M.D., FAAP, would hand out a gun lock or lock box to any gun-owning parent who needs one. It would be the second-safest way to prevent gun injuries or deaths in children’s homes.

The safest, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), is a home without guns. The AAP recommends that parents ask about guns in homes where their child plays. If there is an unlocked gun in a home, reconsider allowing a child to play there.

Gun safety classes do not guarantee a child’s safety. Telling kids who find a gun to leave it alone and tell an adult is not enough, either. Research shows young kids and those with mental and behavioral health issues are at a bigger risk around guns.

This is why pediatricians like Dr. Sigel feel it is important to ask families if they have a gun in their home. If they do, Dr. Sigel talks about safe storage. He also reminds families to ask about gun safety in homes where their children visit.

A gun should be stored unloaded and with a lock in a gun safe, lockbox or vault and separate from ammunition, according to the AAP.

This includes locking and safely storing guns kept at home for security or protection, said Dr. Sigel.

“The perception is that a loaded handgun will keep a family safe. There is no evidence that it will keep them safe,” he said. “There is evidence that it increases the chances of unintentional injury, homicide and suicide.”

Dr. Sigel says it is easy to get a free gun lock. More than 15,000 police departments in all 50 states and five U.S. territories offer free cable locks and safety kits.

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