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Gun Safety: Prevention Tips for Parents

Parents can reduce a child's exposure to guns and ultimately protect a child's life by taking these four steps:

Keep guns away from children.

The safest thing for your family is not to keep a gun in the house. But, if you keep a gun at home, unload and lock it away. Keep all ammunition separate from the gun.

Make sure that your children know the dangers of guns. Teach them not to handle or touch guns.

Too often, we assume that children will know what to do if they see a gun at someone's home or elsewhere in the community. Unfortunately, many children and teens do not realize that handling a gun just once can lead to tragedy.

When children come across an unsupervised gun, or another child with a gun, teach them that they should not touch the gun and should immediately get help from a parent or trusted adult.

Talk to your children about guns and violence.

Explain to them that we all have strong emotions like anger and fear, but that these feelings can be expressed in ways other than striking others or using weapons.

Demonstrate healthy ways to express anger and disagreement. Support your children when they have used positive means of resolving conflict. During positive conflict resolution, children:

  • Talk about feelings, rather than act them out
  • Make choices to avoid fights
  • Get help from trusted adults

Talk to your children about the differences between violence in entertainment media and violence in real life.

Watch television and movies with your children and help them to understand that what they see is not real. Find out what sorts of music your children are listening to and what music videos they've seen lately. If they seem violent to you, talk about it with them. Explain that in reality, guns can kill or cause long-term disabilities.