Rutgers scholar: Parents are first line of defense in children’s gun safety

Rutgers scholar: Parents are first line of defense in children's gun safety

By Cheryl Holly United States citizens live in a gun culture. Children are, by nature, curious. These two facts form a deadly combination. Americans own more than 350 million firearms — more guns than people — and often store them in their homes. We debate laws surrounding gun ownership and purchase. We debate the state of mental health services. We debate provisions to keep students safe in schools. But what we are not talking about is how to keep guns out of the hands of children — often very young children. About four in 10 gun owners report that they have a firearm that is both loaded and accessible in their homes. In New Jersey, an estimated .03 percent, or about 7,710 children, are living in homes where there are unlocked, loaded firearms. Although these percentages are low, thanks likely to our state’s strict gun laws , that number is still far too high. ("Truth About Kids & Guns" report by the Brady Center) Laws do not prevent a child from discovering a loaded, unlocked gun. They did not prevent a 4-year-old boy in East Orange from dying after being shot in the head by his 6-year-old brother who was playing with their mother’s gun in 2016. The year prior, they did not stop a 4-year-old Toms River boy from killing a 6-year-old friend while playing "pretend shooting" with his father’s rifle. These children join the ranks of the nearly 2,600 children who died from a firearm-related injury in […]

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