- Deseret News - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Just last month, 1-year-old Braylon Robinson was playing with his friends in a Cleveland home when one friend got a hold of a loaded gun and shot and killed him.

While this experience may seem as though it is an anomaly, tragic stories like Braylon’s are becoming all too common throughout the United States.

According to a study published earlier this week by Everytown For Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, 79 children have unintentionally shot someone with a handgun during the first four months of 2015. These shootings have resulted in 24 deaths and 56 injuries. If such first-quarter figures were calculated to cover an entire year, there would be an accidental shooting every 36 hours.

The study, which tracked incidental shootings by children in the United States from Jan. 1 to April 30, found that 50 of the 79 accidental shootings were committed by someone age 13 or younger. And 25 of those were committed by children between the ages of 2 and 4.

If such statistics aren’t bone-chilling enough, consider this: The Everytown survey found that 2 million children live in homes where access to a firearm is incredibly easy.

Most experts say that the only way to prevent such tragedies is to not have a gun at home — even if you think that having a gun will protect you from strangers.

“The main reason people give for having a handgun in the home is protection, typically against stranger violence,” wrote David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. “However, it is important to recognize that the home is a relatively safe place, especially from strangers. For example, fewer than 30 percent of burglaries in the United States occur when someone is at home.”

But if you must have a firearm at home, be sure to unload it and lock it in a place inaccessible to children.

It sounds simple enough. But research from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health suggests that few Americans are actually taking the necessary precautions.

UNC researchers found that while 99 percent of households said they have at least one smoke detector in their homes, less than 60 percent said they lock up their guns and store them places where children can’t get them.

“This surprised me,” said Dr. Tamera Coyne-Beasley, a pediatrician at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine and lead author of the research. “I thought people who exercised good general safety habits would also probably have good firearm safety habits as well.”

According to Priscilla Angulo, SafeKids coordinator in northern Utah, the most important thing a parent can do to protect children from accidental gun accidents is to talk to them.

“Talk with your kids,” Ms. Angulo told ksl.com. “Tell them that guns are different from the ones that they see on TV or in video games. In real life, they can be really dangerous.”

Furthermore, Ms. Angulo says that if you do have a firearm in your home, invest in a gun safe and go the extra mile when it comes to locking them up.

“Lock (guns) up separately from the ammunition,” she said. “Also, put your keys and your combinations away so that kids don’t know where they are.”

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