OHSU

Ask Friends, Neighbors Whether They Own a Gun

06/21/06  Portland, Ore.

Doernbecher Children's Safety Center supports ASK campaign, a national effort to prevent gun-related injuries in children; national ASK Day is Wednesday, June 21


Thousands of children each year are injured or killed by guns not properly stored. Experts in the Doernbecher Children's Safety Center urge families with guns to store them unloaded and locked in places where children can't gain access. They also recommend families follow guidelines set forth by the ASK (Asking Saves Lives) campaign, which offers solutions to gun violence and urges parents to ask friends and neighbors whether there are guns in the house before allowing their children to play.

"Many families feel their children are not at risk for firearm-related injuries," said Dana Hargunani, M.D., medical director, Doernbecher Children's Safety Center. "Even children who don't live in homes with guns are at risk because a neighbor or friend may have an unlocked gun in the house. Parents should be comfortable asking about the presence of guns in order to truly keep their children safe."

Doernbecher Children's Safety Center recommends families follow the ASK protocol before allowing their children to play in friends', neighbors' or relatives' homes this summer (ASK Day this year falls on Wednesday, June 21, the first day of summer):
* Do you have a gun in your home?
* If the answer is no, that's one less thing to worry about.
* If the answer is yes, be sure all guns are stored unloaded and locked (ideally in a gun safe) with the ammunition separately stored and locked.

More than 40 percent of American homes with children have guns that are kept unlocked and loaded, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a family member or friend than to be used in self-defense, according to Oregon Safe Kids. There is no good hiding place for a gun. Children are naturally clever and curious, experts say, and even most 3-year-olds have the strength to pull the trigger of a gun.

Doernbecher Children's Safety Center is dedicated to reducing unintentional injuries in children through education and distribution of safety products. For more information, call 503 418-5666 or e-mail safety@ohsu.edu.

STATISTICS ON CHILDREN AND GUN VILOENCE FROM PAX USA (www.paxusa.org/)
*    Nearly 8 children and adolescents were killed by firearms every day in 2003.
*    53 percent of parents say it never occurred to them to ask if there was a gun where their child played.
*    72 percent of parents would be concerned if they knew there was a gun where their child played.
*    97 percent of parents who owned a gun said they would not feel uncomfortable if asked by another parent about the presence of a gun in their home.

 

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