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In the News

Gun safety begins in home
Mobile Register, 11/14/2001

originally posted at:

Staff Reporter

About 40 percent of American families with children have at least one gun inside their home, according to information compiled by the Common Sense about Kids and Guns organization.

And one in four of those guns is loaded, said Paul Marchione, a spokesman for that organization, a nonprofit group that encourages adults to protect children from guns and to teach children about gun safety.

"Chances are, your children have played in a home where a gun was loaded," Marchione said.

Common Sense urges adults who own guns to:
- Keep the gun unloaded and locked away.
- Lock and store ammunition separately.
- Hide keys to the gun and ammunition where children won't find them.
The organization also encourages all parents to:
- Make sure guns are safely stored at places where their children visit or play.
- Talk to their children about the dangers of playing with guns.
- Teach their children not to touch guns, and to tell an adult if they find one.

"Children are naturally curious, and it's natural for them to test the limits set for them by adults," Marchione said. "That is why it is the responsibility of the parents to talk to their children about guns. ... You can't just assume that the children won't touch the gun because you told them not to."

How a parent should approach the subject, and at what age, depends on the child, he said.

James Moses, president of the Alabama State Rifle and Pistol Association, said the most important thing parents can do to protect their children is to keep their guns unloaded.

"Keep it empty, and keep it where it's not accessible to children," he said.

As gun season for hunting deer begins Saturday, Moses encourages hunters to keep their weapons unloaded until they are out in the field. And, at the end of the hunt, any remaining bullets should be removed from the gun before leaving the field.

Deaths caused by the accidental shooting of firearms is down, said Moses, citing information from the National Center of Health Statistics.

In 1930, for example, there were more than 3,000 accidental shooting deaths in the United States, while last year there were 824. More than half of those deaths -- 489 -- were children.

"You don't like that, but you have to consider the fact that we are better off now than we were in 1930," he said.

For more information, about gun safety, log on to Common Sense about Kids and Guns organization's Web site at:, or the National Rifle Association's Web site at:

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