Guns, Kids, and Safety: Local parents and experts weigh-in

. March 31, 2017.

“Do you have guns in your house?” is the first question Mary, a young mom of two in Chelsea asks of friends, neighbors and childminders. If the answer is yes, then Mary probes further to ensure the guns and any ammunition are locked away safely from her kids.

Mary says, “It can be a difficult subject to raise, so sometimes it’s best to invite the other family to your house first and let them know that you don’t own guns.” And she adds, “My friends and family know if they are carrying, they have to hand the gun to me to lock in our safe before entering our house.”

“I was raised in a family of hunters and at about twelve, I learned how to safely handle guns.  The issue is not with safe gun owners.” says Mary. “If people are trained well in gun safety, there shouldn’t be a problem.” She adds that kids are naturally inquisitive. They want to explore everything new, but a gun left around kids can end in disaster. “If they come across anything to do with guns, we tell them to leave the room, inform an adult and ask to come home immediately.”

Golden rules for gun safety

Bethany Folsum, Health Educator in the Pediatric Trauma/Injury Prevention program at Ann Arbor’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital agrees wholeheartedly with Mary’s plan of action.  “I have a dual role with C.S. Mott and Safe Kids of Huron Valley. Working closely with local law enforcement agencies, we act to raise kids awareness on safety.”

Folsum reiterates Mary’s thoughts that kids are naturally curious. “Guns are a reality for them: they see them in stores, they might live within a hunting community where guns are evident, and the people they look up to, police officers, in particular who are ironically there to protect them, carry guns. Concealed and open carry laws support that situation. Parents and kids working together on safety is vital, but ensuring that gun owners are being responsible is also key.”

Susan, a mom of two teenagers in Chelsea, notes that her husband keeps guns in the house. “Whether she knew that or not, I’ve had a mom check me out as a parent before. It’s a bit odd, but I was OK with it. They were doing the right thing. Maybe we, as parents, are overprotective of our kids, but keeping alcohol, drugs and guns, out of any kid’s reach is critical. As for my husband’s guns – they are locked in a gun safe inside a locked room and he is the only person in control of the keys.”

There is no recall on tragedy

Alison, a mom of two young teenagers in Ann Arbor notes, “When I was about eleven, my girlfriend and I found a gun in her house and inquisitively examined it. It scared the heck out of me. I’ve been anti gun ever since.  Now with my kids going on visits to friends’ homes, I ask whether they have allergies, an epipen, etc., as well as whether they have guns in the house. It’s an uncomfortable question, but you can’t do a recall on a tragic occurrence involving a gun.”

Carole, a mom of two teenagers in Dexter adds, “It feels weird to ask the question about guns in the house, but when you are entrusting others with your child’s life, it makes sense.”

If you think it won’t happen

Tom, a dad in Ypsilanti, with two youngsters notes, “We don’t leave our kids anywhere without also being there and getting to know the people we are visiting.” Keeping guns safely away from kids, no matter their age, is vital.

The best way to prevent gun accidents? Arm yourself with knowledge.