Of course, many parents probably read the sobering headlines about kids getting their hands on guns and thought, "I would never leave a gun out where a child could find it." But what if your child was playing at a friend's house and he or she found a gun? Would they pick it up?
If you're like me, you don't even want to think about that scenario. And yet, a new video is a clear sign we need to broach the topic of gun safety with our children. Like, NOW.
The video, which was part of an investigation on gun safety by North Carolina's FOX 46 Charlotte, shows kids in a playroom with a prop firearm. Seven parents were invited to watch via hidden camera to see what would happen when their kids, all between the ages of 6 and 8, noticed the gun. Would they pick it up? Play with it? Try to fire it? Or would they go and tell an adult?
At the outset, some parents said they believed their kids might pick up the gun. One mom said her 6-year-old daughter had been around guns and knew to stay away from them. Another mom revealed her son's class just had a gun safety lesson from a police officer, and she didn't think he would pick up the gun.
Within 60 seconds of entering the playroom, the first child spots the gun and picks it up, but he drops it and moves on to other toys. Soon a few kids crowd around the gun, curious. One child, the one whose mom said she didn't think he would pick up the gun, points it, and "shoots." So within three and half minutes, the gun is "fired" at another child, and theoretically someone could have been killed or gravely injured had it been a real, loaded gun.
This was all I needed to see to decide it's time to have a talk with my kids, ages 5 and 7, about gun safety. I want them to know what to do if they see a gun; that they are NEVER to touch it. And if a friend picks up a gun, they are to run and tell an adult right away.
Every parent should have this talk; we cannot afford to lose any more children to a senseless gun accident. Whatever we can do as parents to prevent these awful accidents, from storing and locking guns to arming our kids with the knowledge that playing with guns is never, ever okay, we must do it.
Because the government may or may not legislate stricter gun safety laws, and even if they do, these measures cannot protect every child in every situation. Only we can do that, or at least try our best.
Do you think your child would pick up a gun?
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.