“But did you die?” – Kathy Jackson

Lots of good responses to yesterday’s post about kids and gun safety.  But on one of the private groups I frequent online, there was some pushback from parents who did not want to keep their guns either on-body, or locked up in a secure fast-access gun safe. They said things like:

  • “We [keep our gun] in the top dresser drawer ready to go… My [daughters] know it’s not a toy.”
  • “Top of the closet, loaded. Our children are educated on gun safety.”
  • “Ours is bullet in chamber above our bed in a cabinet she can’t reach.”
  • “We have taught them gun safety and it’s never been a mystery to them. I grew up with unsecured guns and knew better.”

I don’t — honestly, truly don’t! — understand the resistance to using a secure, fast-access safe or keeping the gun on-body at home. Typing “fast access gun safe” into the search bar on Amazon brings up dozens of easy to use lockboxes that will store the gun securely and allow parents to quickly arm themselves without any chance of a child getting the gun when they shouldn’t. Many of them cost less than a meal in a nice restaurant with the family.

Let me put this in a little perspective, especially for those who grew up with unsecured guns and thus may not understand what the fuss is all about.

Although I truly hate to mention this, I’m over 40 years old (47 to be exact … where do the years go?). Like many other people who grew up around unsecured guns, I also grew up not wearing a seat belt.

Just for nostalgia’s sake, here’s what a child car seat looked like when I was a little girl.

 

Once upon a time, this was the safest place for a child to ride in the car.

Once upon a time, this was the safest place for a baby to ride in the car.

We had one that looked a lot like this, but most of the time my parents didn’t use it. They often let me ride on someone’s lap (my favorite: sitting on daddy’s lap, “helping” him drive). I can remember riding in the back of the family station wagon, playing cards with my brother in the cargo space. Or lying stretched out in a sleeping bag on the floor of the van, or letting the wind blow through my hair as we rode in the open bed of a pickup truck. All of those things were normal when I was a kid — and all of them are pretty much unacceptable parenting practices now.

We might smile when we remember things like that and say, “Oh, we survived those ‘dangerous’ practices, so they must not have been so dangerous after all!”

But when we say that, we’re being very foolish, because you know who we can’t ask? All the children who died before they got to be as old as we are.

 

Childhood deaths in motor vehicle collisions by age, 1975 - 2014. In 1974, approximately 16 percent of American infants rode in car seats. By 2014, that number had risen to over 98 percent. (Source: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/child-safety/fatalityfacts/child-safety#Trends)

Childhood deaths in motor vehicle collisions by age, 1975 – 2014. In 1974, approximately 16 percent of American infants rode in car seats. By 2014, that number had risen to over 98 percent. (Source: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/child-safety/fatalityfacts/child-safety#Trends)

 

The change in parenting practice from not using car seats at all to keeping children in very well-designed modern car seats has saved a lot of lives that would have otherwise been lost. This is true even though a lot of us survived riding in cars without car seats, or with the less-safe older styles.

So what does this have to do with locking up your guns where children can’t get them? Quite a lot! Here’s what modern “lock the guns up and educate your kids” firearms practices have accomplished on the child safety front.

 

Changes in parental safety practices -- most notably, locking up the guns rather than hiding them or storing them haphazardly around the house -- have nearly eliminated childhood deaths from gun accidents.

Changes in parental safety practices — most notably, locking up the guns rather than hiding them or storing them haphazardly around the house — have sharply reduced childhood deaths from gun accidents, even while gun ownership and use has continued to rise.

 

So while I’m glad to know that each of us survived our own dangerous childhoods, I’m also glad to know that we can do things more safely for our own children. What a wonderful time to be alive!

Thank goodness for modern quick-access safes, that allow parents to keep self-defense guns ready for quick use but out of the reach of children.

Thank goodness for modern concealed carry laws that allow responsible adults to keep firearms safely holstered on their bodies without fear of breaking the law by simply stepping past their own property line.

And thank goodness for parents smart enough and dedicated enough to teach their children how to safely handle and use firearms, even from very young ages.

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