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Dr. Claire McCarthy is certainly a well-rounded woman; a pediatrician, a mom with five kids, a writer and blogger. So it’s no wonder she only seeems to have time for quick and simple (not to say simplistic) solutions to some problems and noted that yesterday was something called National ASK Day. ASK as in, Asking Saves Kids. The question: “Is there a gun where your child plays?”

That’s the question that the Center to Prevent Youth Violence (CPYV) and the American Academy of Pediatrics would like us to ask. Thursday, June 21st is National Ask Day.

Unfortunately (if accuracy is a concern), the good doctor starts by quoting some stats from the CPYV website. She starts out slowly; 33% of households have a gun (hmm, according to the folks over at the Gallup poll, it’s more like 47%), 40% don’t lock them up, a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to kill someone in the home (wait, what happened to 43 times more likely?). But then she gets into the really scary numbers. For the children, of course:

Many unintentional injuries of children and teens result from access to firearms in the home.

Oh, yeah now it’s “children and teens”, that way they can include “kids” up to 19 years old.

  • In 2007, 138 children and teens ages 0-19 were killed in unintentional shootings (NCIPC).

And in 2008 it was 123, and in 2009 it was 114. In fact, except for a couple of blips (and the discontinuity between 1998 and 1999 when the CDC changed classifications) accidental child and teen deaths have been pretty steadily dropping for 3 decades now.

  • In 2009, 3,588 children and teens ages 0-19 were treated in emergency rooms for unintentional gunshot wounds (NCIPC).

Over thirty-five hundred sounds like a lot . . . but how does that compare to other kinds of accidental injury?

Perhaps our efforts would be better directed towards other hazards?

  • In 78% of accidental shooting deaths of children under 15, the child was shot by another person. In these cases, the person was almost always a friend or family member, and more than half of the time, the shooting occurred at someone else’s home (Hemenway).

A-ha! That is it, right there. Unfortunately Dr. Claire, CPYV, Hemenway and all the rest draw exactly the wrong conclusion. You shouldn’t be “non-judgmentally” asking do you have guns in your home? What you should be asking the other parents (age appropriate, of course) is:

  • Have you taught your child the Four Rules of gun safety?
  • Have you taken your child to the range and taught them to shoot?
  • Is your child familiar with firearms and knows they are not toys?
  • Does your child know that if they find a gun they should stop, leave the area and find an adult?

But the vitally important thing for your child’s safety is:

  • Have you taught your child the Four Rules of gun safety?
  • Have you taken your child to the range and taught them to shoot?
  • Is your child familiar with firearms and knows they are not toys?
  • Does your child know that if they find a gun they should stop, leave the area and find an adult?

Don’t gun-proof you child’s surroundings, gun-proof your child.

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  1. Very very true. My first child is due in December, and I can’t wait to teach him or her about firearms and hope that they love it as much as I do.

  2. No matter what the issue, education and personal responsibility is always the solution. People always want to believe that there are easier solutions which require effort of others, rather than their own efforts. I think that’s lazy and selfish.


    • “Is there a gun where your child plays?”

      No – but now that you brought that deficiency to my attention….

  3. Going by her logic, more important questions to ask are if there is a dog, sharp object, poisons, or swimming pool at the house.

  4. Q: Is there a gun where your child plays?

    A: There had better be, if he knows what’s good for him!

  5. Focusing on the gun provides a simplistic and easy (if false) solution…in other words, exactly the kind most modern progressive parents want. If you demand that they actually do some parenting and think and put forth the effort to educate their children rather than ineffectively shield them (because it works so well for drugs, sex, and alcohol) then it’s suddenly too much trouble. After all, Idol’s on…can’t the government do my parenting for me?

  6. And when the government controls your medical records, they will then have a de facto list of gun owners.

    Police will be getting access to medical records before shooting your dog.

  7. What I really think should happen is the CDC should be defunded until it understands the difference between medicine and politics.

  8. Some one should inform the good Doctor that whether you are a gun lover or a gun hater you should educate your children on the four rules of gun safety. However, she and other “child advocates” would rather stick their childrens’ heads in the sand and pretend that their little ones will never encounter a gun.

  9. Or perhaps, teach gun owners to secure guns. And many of the other injury causes could also be reduced with just a little precaution.

    • That’s right, everyone else has something they need to change, not you or your family. There’s nothing you can do to make sure your kids stay safe in the presence of firearms, it’s everyone else’s fault. You don’t have to teach your kids personal responsibility, you have to teach everyone else what their responsibilities are.

      You make me sick.

    • You can have my Aussie Cattle Dog when you pry her from my cold, dead hands. 😉

      • …unless you have a tennis ball or a dog treat in which case she’ll go quite willingly.

  10. Check out how many deaths happen each year from “medical misadventure.”

    The number is over 160K/year in the US.

    That’s a whole lotta stiffs.

    How many are killed with guns? Not 160K/year, that’s for sure. So which is more dangerous? Doctors or guns? Stats say…. doctors have the bigger pile of corpses at their feet.

    And it’s been that way for years and years.

  11. A quick Google Search reveals:

    “According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, out of 12,998 people killed by drunk drivers in 2007, 311 of them were children under the age of 16.”

    Sounds like the problem isn’t guns.

  12. I agree with this article 100%
    I understand her point but this is from someone who probably doesn’t own a firearm and probably would like to see them band.
    To that end…
    I have asked a friend who was watching our two year old that if they had any unsecured firearms in the home to please lock them. I said this politely, as he was watching my son. While I don’t worry about our older children my two year old is not quite to the point where I would trust him around an unsecured firearm. Her view is very simplistic, almost idiotic. If I said yes I have guns in my home, then what? She never asked do you keep them locked up. She never asked do your kids if they have access understand these are not toys.
    Now a little from my own back ground.
    i was in the army in Israel as many of you know. On weekends when I was home, my brother in law was there, with any number of his friends along with my friends. Imagine if you will a gun rack by the front door with anywhere from 3 to 12 fully automatic rifles in it. Ammo at the ready, even grenades. None of our kids ever touched them. They knew better. they knew what they can do. News in Israel is unfiltered. Picture in the news paper show dead bodies not like here where they wait for the yellow tarp to go down. We never had an issue, even the young ones. Of course they were unloaded but no locks. I blame the media. They sanitize things so we won’t get offended yet at the same time kids get the wrong view of the real world. I call it the A-Team infliction. If any of you ever watched it, how many millions of rounds were shot and no one dies. Real life is anything but that.

  13. “Hell yeah, we got guns at my house! Don’t worry, me and the Mrs. carry them on us all of the time, so they’re safe.”

  14. The real question: “Is an idiot raising your child?”

    If so, please do not reproduce ever again. I’m begging you.

  15. Many gun owners want to assume that ALL gun owners are responsible. Many parents want to assume ALL parents are responsible. Lets leave fantasy land and understand that they are not. An unsecured firearm can be just as deadly to my child as unsecured household cleaners or a parent that doesn’t check behind their car before they back up. It’s my obligation as a parent to make sure I’m comfortable where my child is at any given moment. It’s a reasonable question to ask. Though to be honest I wouldn’t let my child stay or play outside my presence at anyone’s home that I didn’t know well enough to answer the question without asking.

  16. My kid knows to stay away from the irons because that is what I taught her. I also lock them up so they are not stolen when I am out, nor played with by her friends when they come over. When she is old enough she will learn how to operate them and develop more respect for what they can do. And I follow the rules with guns whenever they are in my hands.

    I don’t need some self absorbed nanny to advice me on anything, she probably doesn’t have guns and never held one.

  17. I’ve been through the four rules with my kids so many times they’re probably sick of hearing them. As opposed to the ASK concept, I also use the TELL heuristic, which goes like this:

    Touch that gun outside of my presence or without my permission and I will
    End your

    Has worked so far.

    • If we are talking about old scohol, kindergarden times then any and all of the Clifford the Big Red Dog books (partially because I alwasy wanted a dog and parents never let me). If we are going by elementary status then Where the Red Fern Grows (again partially because of my love of dogs. If we are talking middle scohol then the Ender’s Game series, mainly for is philosophical innuendos. Good question. April 01, 2011

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