Whether or not you believe we live in dangerous times, the fact is more and more people have handguns to protect themselves, their loved ones and their hard-earned property. (see Gallup Poll at http://www.gallup.com/poll/150353/self-reported-gun-ownership-highest-1993.aspx) The rise in gun ownership, however, also translates into increased accidents involving guns and children. Recently in our community, a 3-year old boy accidentally shot and killed his 15-month old sister while playing with a loaded handgun he found in his home. Earlier this year, a 3-year Tacoma, Washington boy shot and killed himself after finding a loaded handgun under the driver’s seat of his family car. Gun advocates argue, “Guns don’t kill people…people kill people.” True, but all too often children are the people using guns to accidentally kill or injure themselves or other innocent victims.

Although the Second Amendment guarantees your right to keep and bear arms, this privilege also creates great responsibility. The website www.kidsandguns.org reports that 22 million homes have handguns where children live, visit and play. It’s not surprising, then, that children are being injured and killed in alarming numbers in the homes of family, friends and neighbors who also have handguns. Children are naturally curious and too young to appreciate the dangers guns pose, so it’s essential to properly store handguns, unloaded, locked up, and out of their reach.

Ignoring gun safety can have devastating consequences not only personally, but also civilly and criminally as well. If you negligently store a gun in your home and someone is injured or killed as a result, you may be responsible for money damages caused by your negligence. From a criminal standpoint, it’s a felony in both Kentucky and Indiana to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly provide a gun to any person under 18-years old.

The folks at www.kidsandguns.org recommend these common sense safety tips if you have children and handguns in your home:

Keep gun(s) locked up and unloaded

  • Lock and store ammunition separately
  • Hide storage keys away from children
  • Talk with children about gun safety
  • Teach young children not to touch a gun and tell an adult if they find one

Becker Law Office encourages safe gun ownership. Storing your guns unloaded and locked in a gun safe is the surest way to prevent negligent or reckless access to guns by children.