Gun ownership and gun control are two pretty touchy topics that have people on both sides of the issue pretty polarized. But one thing that practically everyone can agree on is that it's a bad idea to have unsecured guns where kids can find and potentially use them.
That's why it's extremely shocking when someone comes out and says the direct opposite of that, as instructor Rob Pincus did at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting earlier this month. During a talk about defending against violent home invasions, Pincus encouraged parents to keep their guns in their children's rooms.
Pincus, who is the owner of I.C.E., a firearm training company that he describes as "The Journal of the Most Progressive Reality Based Training Company on The Planet," began by saying that in the event of a violent home invasion, the first place he would go is his children's room, which is why he made the recommendation.
He also told parents that if their child manages to crack a gun safe in their room, then that's a parenting issue as opposed to a home defense issue. He later went on to tell attendees that gun safes aren't a necessity; a well-hidden gun that children can't reach should suffice as well.
Obviously this flies in the face of what safety experts, responsible gun owners and health care professionals have been saying for years. Considering that unintentional gun deaths kill about two kids a week, the American Academy of Pediatrics has long advocated for gun control as a public health measure. The organization recommends that guns be stored securely, locked and separate from the ammunition used to load them.
Experts agree with this recommendation. Mark Luell, author of Growing Up Guns, is a father and self-proclaimed training junkie and firearms junkie. He insists that gun owners have a responsibility to ensure that no unauthorized person has access to those guns, and he puts children (including his own) at the top of that list and concurs with the AAP recommendation.
Kids are incredibly curious and resourceful little creatures, and despite what Pincus believes about parenting issues, even well-hidden guns are not a good idea in kids' rooms. Of the nearly 2 million homes with guns in them, 76 percent of children between 5 and 14 know exactly where they are. Add to that the fact that 40 percent of unintentional child shooting deaths occur in the room where the gun is stored, and you've got some really great reasons to do the exact opposite of what Pincus recommends.
The truth is, with annualized data revealing that precisely zero violent home invasions end with a homicide perpetrated by the invader, your child is far more likely to die in an unintentional shooting than in a robbery or assault attempt gone wrong.
That's more than enough reason to follow the recommendations for gun storage put forth by professionals and not laypeople, particularly those outlined by responsible gun ownership advocacy groups like Project Child Safe:
1. Keep guns locked in a safe, vault or cabinet in a location that children do not have access to.
2. The guns you lock away should be kept unloaded and should be checked to ensure they are unloaded each time they are used and replaced.
3. The ammunition used to load those guns should be secured separately from the guns themselves, again in a location that children do no have access to.
4. Employ additional safety measures like cable and gun locks to render your weapons inoperable.
5. Speak with your children about what they should do if they find a gun — stop, don't touch the weapon, leave and tell a grown-up.
The truth is, the best way to keep your children safe is to follow a plan like the one outlined above. Doing the opposite and keeping guns in a place that is accessible to your children is more likely to hurt or kill them than would the bogeyman that lives at the center of home invasion fear.