How 10 Seconds Can Save Your Child’s Life
Recently, our police department held an open house for citizens to visit and experience different aspects of police work. The displays ranged from bicycle patrol officers to SWAT team demonstrations. The weapons table had many different firearms safely displayed for citizens to view and practice using gun locks. As one of our off-duty officers and his family approached the table, his young son’s eyes lit up. Immediately, this officer’s son walked up grabbed the handgun and began to play with the gun and pull the trigger pointing it all over the room. The officer embarrassingly took the handgun out of his son’s hand and stated, “I thought we had gone over gun safety, but apparently we need to have another talk.”
This, sadly, was not surprising. In fact, it is common. Studies show that boys between the ages of 8–12 years old, after finding a gun, will pull the trigger on that gun about 50% of the time regardless of whether or not they have received gun safety education. More alarming, the numbers show that between 20%-52% of firearms are stored unlocked and loaded. Keep in mind that approximately half the homes in the United States contain firearms.
Gun safety is one of the topics often brought to light after a tragic outcome. As a police officer, one of the hardest calls to respond to usually involves injured children. When I respond and look around, I ask myself, what could we have done differently to prevent this tragedy? In the case of a gun accident, it is shockingly simple. And it only takes 10 seconds.
Proper gun storage is one of the best ways to prevent firearm accidents. Some police departments and county offices offer free gun locks that prevent a weapon from being fired. For more information check with your local emergency services agencies for recommendations. If that program doesn’t exist in your location, buying a lock is certainly a drop in the bucket compared to the firearm being purchased. I just found one online for under $4.00. Amazon has many more for sale. I would highly recommend using at least a gun lock when storing any firearm in your home. A gun lock affixed to your gun that is then stored in a safe is optimal. The photo below shows the proper use of a gun lock on my handgun.
This simple process took me less than 10 seconds to place the lock on my handgun. The magazine is removed from the gun, the round is ejected from the chamber, the slide is locked to the rear and checked that it is all clear of ammunition. The gun lock is placed down the ejection port and magazine port and then locked. Store the key in a location hidden from your child. The gun lock renders the gun inoperable. I am sure we can all agree 10 seconds out of your day to prevent injury or death to your child is well worth the return on investment.
I think it is also important to educate parents about the sound of a gunshot. Why? Based on experience. Parents have told me when I’ve responded to calls involving gunshots that they thought it was a firework or a car backfiring. I have attached a short video clip below to educate you on what a gunshot sounds like from our gun range. The second video clip shows how a semi-automatic handgun actually works in slow motion after the pull of the trigger the slide (top of handgun) pulls back, the bullet exits the barrel, and the expended round is released from the ejection port.
I hope a parent never hears this sound coming from their home. If you do hear this sound, you should be concerned and need to act immediately. Especially if you own a firearm. And even more so if you chose to leave it unlocked when it is unattended.
Here are some simple gun safety tips to prevent accidental injury and deaths.
· Use a gun lock rendering your firearm inoperable when not in use.
· Lock up your firearm in a safe place so it isn’t accessible to children and keep your key in a secret place only you know.
· Keep ammunition in a separate storage area from your firearm.
· Do not store your firearm in a car.
· Always treat a firearm as if it is loaded and never point your firearm at anything you don’t intend to shoot.
· If you own a firearm, when your child hits that age of curiosity, talk to them about the firearm, proper handling, and gun safety. Nothing kills curiosity like pulling the Wizard of Oz curtain aside to show them what lies beyond.
· Talk to your child about what to do if they are in a situation and they locate a firearm. Tell them to not touch the firearm and notify an adult immediately.
· Finally, please do us in law enforcement a favor. Write the serial number of your gun down. If it gets stolen, report it. Gun thefts are on the rise across the country and if a gun is stolen, reporting it along with the gun’s serial number is critical information that will help our investigators to get that gun off the street.
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