With 30,000 gun deaths occurring in the U.S. each year, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has its work cut out for it. In an effort to reduce gun violence and death, particularly in relation to children, the Brady Center launched a new campaign this week that focuses on preventing children from being killed by a parent’s gun.
According to the Brady Center’s report, “The Truth About Kids and Guns,” children are more likely to be killed by a gun in the home than anywhere else. Research the center has collected shows that 60 percent of firearm-related deaths among children and teens take place in or around a home, whether it’s their own or that of a friend, neighbor or family member.
As a parent, this is absolutely frightening to me. Most people who own guns do not bring them into their homes with the intention of harming or killing anybody. Unfortunately, with 9 out of 10 unintentional youth shooting fatalities taking place in a home, we need to be more vigilant. Regardless of how safe, secure and strict some parents are when it comes to locking up their guns, all it takes is one time, one chance for a gun to accidentally be found or go off. In addition, with all the worry over events like Sandy Hook, it’s important to note that studies have shown that 68 percent of school shootings involve a gun that was found at home.
The report also breaks down media hype and stereotypes, noting that access to a gun is highest among teens who are white, who live with two parents and who have a mother with at least a high school degree.
The campaign’s message is aimed at parents, reminding them they can have a very immediate impact on children’s access to guns and that they play a significant role in saving lives and preventing tragic gun deaths. Using powerful digital advertisements and a public service announcement, the Brady Center features parents who have lost children to gun violence. David Wheeler, whose son, Ben, was shot and killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, shares the somber reminder that his son “will be 6 years old forever.” He goes on to remind us that unsecured guns kill hundreds of children every year.
While it’s certainly not an easy conversation to have, I definitely have asked whether a parent has a gun in the home before sending my son off for a solo playdate. Fortunately Jennie Lintz, director of public health and safety at the Brady Center, has a helpful script for parents to use when broaching the subject: “In the wake of all the terrible violence in the news, I’m worried about guns — I’m sure you are too. Please don’t take it personally, but can I ask you to reassure me that you don’t have unlocked guns in the house that might unintentionally hurt our kids?”
You can visit the Brady Center’s website to learn more about the campaign to prevent gun deaths in children, and make sure to view their PSA and share it with fellow parents. Together we can help them reach their goal of a future in which no child is killed by a parent’s gun.