By Dr. Bernard Klein
Another day, another mass shooting.
It is so easy to feel that this is a helpless and inevitable situation and nothing can be done to prevent it. Even though the United States is experiencing more mass shootings than at any other time in its history, progress on meaningful gun safety legislation moves far too slowly.
While preventing shootings may seem hopeless, I am optimistic because there is something every gun owner can do right now to stem the tide of needless tragedy — safely store your guns.
More Americans have guns in the home than at any other time, resulting in sobering statistics on accidental shootings. In 2021, four in 10 children, approximately 30 million children, lived in a home where there was at least one gun, and the vast majority of these guns are stored unlocked and/or loaded.
Seventy-three percent of first and second graders know where their parents keep their firearms and 36 percent of children admitted handling the weapons, contrary to what their parents reported.
From 2015 to 2021, there were 2,446 unintentional child shootings, resulting in 923 deaths (almost one death every other day) and 242 injuries, 70 percent of which occurred in the home. And sadly, more than 80 percent of guns used by youths in suicide attempts were kept in the home of the victim, a relative or a friend.
Mass shootings grab our attention, but the fact is most gunshot deaths and injuries to children occur because guns in the home are not properly and securely stored.
Anyone who has guns in their home can prevent the unimaginable tragedy of a dead or injured child by following simple safety guidelines. If you have guns at home, store them unloaded in a secure place, a locked cabinet, gun vault, safe or storage case; lock ammunition in a separate location; when removing firearms from storage, double-check to ensure they are not loaded; and consider a gun-locking device that renders firearms inoperable.
Please don’t allow a child to become a statistic in your home. Securely store your guns. You can make a difference right now!
Bernard Klein, M.D., is chief executive of Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, Mission Hills. Following the 2019 Saugus High School shooting, Dr. Klein oversaw creation of a gun safety brochure that is distributed in affiliated physician offices.