Do you know where your gun is?

Usually, it's the small children who accidentally shoot themselves or someone else with a parent's gun that make the big headlines. The teens who commit suicide with a family gun tend to attract less attention in many communities.

Either way, though, the guns have to be accessible. And the results of a newly published survey of gun-owning parents that was carried out in pediatricians' offices across the United States and Canada found that only about 30 percent of families with guns and kids store the weapons safely.

"Over 70 percent of the families surveyed reported not storing their firearms safely in their residence," said Robert DuRant, a pediatric researcher at Brenner Children's Hospital at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

DuRant and Dr. Shari Barkin, now at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., and colleagues worked with pediatric offices in 45 states, Puerto Rico and Canada to survey 3,745 parents about the presence and storage of guns in the home. The results were published this week in the journal Pediatrics.

About 23 percent of the parents said they kept guns at home, with gun ownership highest in families with two adults in the home, a total family income of at least $40,000 a year and who lived in rural areas.

Safe storage was defined as keeping guns unloaded and locked in a cabinet or with a gun lock, and having ammunition stored separately. Yet depending on the type of gun, parents reported that between 26 percent to nearly 40 percent were hidden someplace other than in a locked cabinet.

"Our research shows that unsafe gun storage is associated with families who were raised with guns in the home," DuRant said. "They tend to be more comfortable with guns and are less likely to store them safely.

"We also found that families who had children aged 2 to 5 years and owned long guns (rifles and shotguns) were more likely to store guns safely than families with older children."

Yet guns pose a major household hazard for all youngsters, and especially for older children who are at more risk for suicide. Over 60 percent of teen suicides involve firearms. Guns killed more than 2,700 children and teens in 2003, according to the latest data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most from homicide or suicide. But more than one in five involved an accidental shooting.

The pediatricians' surveys also showed that families who owned only long guns were more likely to keep them unlocked, but keep the ammunition separate, while those owning hand guns only were more likely to store them locked, but kept loaded.

Parents who owned both handguns and long guns were generally less likely to keep any of the guns locked.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which publishes the journal, is encouraging members to routinely ask parents about the presence of guns at home as part of a general rundown on safety during children's checkups.

"We are encouraging all pediatricians to talk with parents about safe gun-storage practices," DuRant said. "We want to prevent unnecessary deaths."

Nineteen states have laws or legal rulings that specifically hold gun owners accountable for leaving a firearm easily accessible to a child.

Guns in the home are a danger year-round, but parents might particularly want to assess how they're stored now, considering that schools break for the summer and there's a greater chance that bored youngsters might be tempted by them.

A recent report by the advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide noted that the risk of accidental injury and death for children soars from several sources in the summer. Citing fatalities between May 1 and Aug. 31, 2004, the group found that an average of 17 children a day died from accidental injuries during that period.

The five most common causes of accidental-injury deaths in the summer: drowning (which increases 89 percent in the summer months over the annual monthly average); bicycles (up 45 percent in summer); falls (up 21 percent); motor-vehicle-passenger injury (up 20 percent) and pedestrian injuries (up 16 percent).

So along with safeguarding guns, precautions like fencing home pools, making sure kids wear bike helmets and sit in properly installed car booster seats and securing windows and doors above the first floor, can make a big difference in reducing warm-weather tragedies.

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  1. Access Of Evil

    I’ll buy the “stupid” part here.

    You’d have to be stupid to invade the homes locally. Everyone here is armed. We’re out in the country. Sheriff response is about 30 minutes.

    But if you decided to invade, assault, burgle, you’re going to be shot. The stupid crooks locally get shot now and then.

    Mostly, gun ownership locally creates a deterrent. Just like Japanese Generals warned against invading the US: “Do not think of invading the US. There is a rifle behind every blade of grass.”

    Gun ownership provides a deterrent.

    I’m betting Cho would not have shot up Va. Tech. had he thought for a second that the campus was armed and lawfully able to defend itself.

    It’s the “gun free zones” that become the victims of some whacko. We don’t ever read about police stations and military bases coming under attack by an armed whacko.

    I know where my GUNS ARE. And if you’re half smart, you have a good idea where my guns are too.


    If you own a gun for defense, remember that they only defend against people who are very obvious, noisy and stupid. If someone wants to get you, they can always do so, and you won’t even see them coming.

    I understand the cult of mechanism which develops in about 5th grade and then leads to the ownership of a gun. It is like a fascination with jewelry. You buy it and then you have to keep it hidden or stored away to prevent theft. Then it comes out once a year for target shooting or hunting.

    Otherwise, a gun is just an attractive nuisance, like a can of gasoline or a book of matches.

    The NRA and other gun cults are just protection rackets. They scare you to get your membership and then they use your name to set policies for gun makers. What’s more, they have your name, so your privacy is gone.

  3. Steve Horn

    You wrote:

    “Otherwise, a gun is just an attractive nuisance, like a can of gasoline or a book of matches.”

    None of the above is an “attractive nuisance”.

    With a gun (handgun or rifle) one can hunt, target shoot and spend many enjoyable hours out doors.

    With a can of gasoline one can fill their lawn mower or aid a fellow motorist who’s run out along the road.

    With a book of matches one can light a candle, a campfire or a grill.

    When used as designed by someone who knows how they are all useful articles to have around. Like any tool or substance they can be mis-used. One could shoot the people in a house with the gun, soak the carpet with the gasoline and use the matches to set fire to the whole kaboodle. One could also drive their car down a sidewalk and kill people or stab folks with a carving knife.

    The problem stems not from the inanimate objects which are neither good nor evil, but from mis-use,ignorance and the evil intentions of our fellow human beings. Evil does not live in machines, but in the hearts of men.

    Steve Horn

  4. Stoney13

    What about the elderly lady that blew an intruder out of her window? Just how do you think that would have happened if she had to go and unlock her gun cabinet, unlock her ammunition, load the clip, or cylinder, and then finally give fair warning of intent? She would have been another statistic in an all too growing list of victims!

    Let somebody come creeping in MY window at dark! They’ll git a .44 caliber surprise! I’ve got a wife and a son in a wheelchair to think about!

    Stoney Browning

  5. fullautoguy

    Either in my Safe that is bolted to the foundation of my house or on my body when i leave the house. I have positive control over my firearms at all times. The police are not there all of the time and are not legaly bound to answer my call for help. Your personal saftey and that of your loved ones is your responsability and no one elses. my weapons are never farther away than a arms length.

    NRA Life Member
    Rangers lead the way!!!

  6. yarply

    Their are more kids killed by bees and pools each year than accidentally killed by their parents hand or long gun. The idea that one has to safely store their firearms is a joke and just another means to assert gun control on the public for “the childrens sake”. Hell, if you have your pistol safely stored away from the ammo, and locked up in a safe, what are you going to do with a home invader? Ask him to wait, and not kill you, or rape your wife or kids while you go to your safe and get your pistol, and then load the damn thing. All hand guns should be loaded and kept on your person. Children should be trained in their use and taught that ALL guns are loaded. It is the supposed empty guns that accidentally kill.
    Rifles may be stored as they are usually useless in a home invasion unless that is all you have to defend yourself, and hopefully then, that rifle is a shotgun which is an excellent weapon against home invaders.

  7. Access Of Evil

    I’d look really silly with three dozen loaded handguns on my person.

    It’s spelled “there” . . . not “their.”

    I don’t keep them loaded, but I keep the ammo where I can get to it — which is generally right next to the firearm.

    No, I don’t have any freekin’ children.

  8. yarply

    Thirty six handguns would be a bit hard to carry at one time, but then again why own thirty-six pistols to begin with? (Think of all the different ammo you must have) Oh, and by the way its spelled “freakin”… not “freekin”. Freaking to be exact.

    So if anyone ever breaks into your home, remember to say, give me a freaking second to load one of my thirty-six pistols.

    There instead of their? Hmmmmmm.

    Their; 1 : of or relating to them or themselves especially as possessors, agents, or objects of an action 2 : his or her : HIS, HER, ITS — used with an indefinite third person singular antecedent

    Generally speaking I do not correct others in their spelling or grammar when the point they make is not hindered by a misspell or other type error. Whats the point?

  9. kent shaw

    with the chamber empty and six rounds of 00 resides in the corner of the bedroom. The Glock 23, .40 cal., with the chamber empty and a dozen rounds in the magazine resides on the pillow on the other side of the bed. So come on by anytime but please, for both our sakes, make a lot of noise on your way in. No kids here, but the state “pen” is about four miles away as the crow flies and once every couple years they seem to lose track of one of their “customers”.


    Guns are an attractive nuisance because they are tempting to children and fools. Obviously the NRA doesn’t have a clue about what an attractive nuisance is. Neither do the fools that were covered in the original story.

    Almost everything that was written is a clear expression of the cult of mechanism that gun ownership represents. It is a cult that separates the men from the boys, just like sinners are separated from saints.

    If you are asleep in your bed, the main function of the gun under your pillow is to attract thieves. They always look for the guns because so many gun owners are perfectly willing to buy stolen stuff.

    Just once in my life I would like to meet a gun owner who is capable of thinking.

    John Hanks, Laramie, Wyoming

  11. Stoney13

    You must be a very popular guy in Laramie Wyoming with you views! One of my favorite firearms is made by The Freedom Arms Company over in Freedom, Wyoming, so I know what the gun culture is like there! Guns are an intricate part of life where you’re at! The gun is a tool that puts meat on the table, keeps the bad guys away, and provides sport, and recreation as well!

    Look, dude, I can respect you, because you don’t like guns, but you’ve got to respect me because I do! Respect is a two-way street! If you don’t have it, you will probably never get it! As far as my thinking ability, I’ve been doing it for 50 years come the twenty-seventh of this month, and I’ve done pretty good for myself!

    Insulting gun owners is no way to make friends and influence people! You don’t like guns. Cool! DON’T OWN ONE!!! Nobody is forcing you to buy a firearm!

    But when you want to take my guns away, simply because you somehow see firearms as beneath you, then we have a problem! And when you insult me, and call me a fool for exercising a right guaranteed by The Constitution of The United States (which I swore to defend, by the way!), we have an even bigger one!

    Now, cut the shit, and play nice! And as to who is the more thoughtless of the two of us, I’ll leave that up to the readers!

    Stoney Browning

  12. Steve Horn

    They’re in a safe location, away from the ammunition, with trigger locks installed. In addition my children have been taught proper respect for firearms, know how to handle them, and understand the consequence of discharging one at a target, watermellon or gallon jug of water.

    Gun safety isn’t just locking away guns, it involves teaching those who live in the gun owners house what they are, what they do and what happens if you don’t handle them correctly.

    Knowledge is power and safety – ignorance is what generally sparks tragedy with weapons.