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Do you ask about guns in the home?



Learn the facts about guns, and what you can do to ensure your child is safe.

More than half of parents nationwide say it has never occurred to them to ask about the presence of guns where their children play.

A simple question could save your child’s life. It’s not a politically motivated question. It’s not a judgmental question. It’s not a question designed to shame anyone. It’s simply a question to help protect your child.

“Is there an unlocked, loaded gun in the homes where my child plays?”

You wouldn’t feel uncomfortable asking about pets in the home, or letting a parent know about a food allergy your child has before sending them over to play, so it should not make you uncomfortable to ask this question, too.

It may surprise you to know that there are guns in one in three homes in America. More surprising is that nearly 1.7 million children live in homes in which guns are loaded and unlocked. Because of the unlocked guns, thousands of children die from accidental gun shots each year in our country. Many more are also injured.

ASK campaign

The Asking Saves Kids (ASK) campaign was started by a St. Louis mother who lost her 3-year-old year old son, Markie, to a gunshot wound. Markie was shot (accidentally) by an 11-year-old child who found a gun in the closet. When Markie entered the room, he surprised the older boy, and the gun went off.

Two families will never be the same again. And it could have been prevented.

It is estimated by the ASK campaign (and supported by data at the CDC) that nine children and teens are shot each day in the United States in accidental shootings. Those are only the reported injuries and deaths.

Child safety

Every day as parents, we make very rational choices regarding our kid’s safety — we buckle their seatbelts, make them wear bicycle helmets, and limit their TV time. But when it comes to gun safety, we are often not taking the same logical approach with our loved ones. More than half of parents nationwide say it has never occurred to them to ask about the presence of guns where their children play.

We share tips between parents all the time about how to keep our children healthy and safe. Gun safety should be a part of the conversation. Any and all parents can help keep children safe by participating in the ASK campaign, and by encouraging their friends and neighbors to do the same.

Avoid confrontation

Every parent cares about the safety of their children. We are all in this together, and none of us would wish a scenario like the one described above on anyone else. It may feel very awkward for you to ask someone about guns in their home, but do not let that dissuade you. Try to ask in normal conversation, and avoid being confrontational. After all, you’re not indicting them, you’re just inquiring for the safety of your child.

Asking the question

When you drop your child to play at another child’s house, ask the parent “Is there an unlocked gun in the house?” If the parent is upset by the question, or responds in a manner such as “It’s not your business,” perhaps reconsider allowing your child to play in this home. It is your business if there is an unlocked gun where your child plays. If the parent answers that it is hidden, that is also not good enough. Children find things.

Tools to help

The ASK Campaign is a collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The campaign provides tools and support to help parents and caregivers ask the question without feeling so awkward about it. Visit askingsaveskids.org for some excellent resources and more information on how you can make a difference, too.

Alexa Bigwarfe is the mother to three young children. She is a strong advocate for all things related to children’s safety and health issues.