How can we keep children safe from guns at home? — Peter W. McCauley, Sr.

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3 min readJun 8, 2022

In a report issued in April by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, researchers analyzing CDC data found that in 2020 the leading cause of death among children, teens, and young adults involved a firearm. This represents a 28% increase from 2019 in gun-related deaths for people ages 24 and younger during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. So this increase came during a period of children spending more time at home, many in lockdown.

Following mass shootings like Uvalde there is national outrage and tremendous media coverage — as well there should be. We need to implement sensible gun control to prevent these tragedies, as well as improve access to mental health care. But beyond that we need to focus on what is not widely reported on a national level — deaths caused by firearms at home. Youth suicide attempts involving guns is at its highest point in 20 years. Moreover, it is 43 times more likely for a home gun to be used in the injury of a child or relative or a neighbor, as opposed to a burglar or another type of criminal intruder.

June is Gun Safety and Violence Awareness month, as well as the beginning of summer when children spend more time at home. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (“AAP”) one third of American kids live in homes with guns. What steps should we as parents take to safeguard our children? Last June I weighed in on this topic for ABC News in Philadelphia. Here are the top three things you can do:

  1. Secure your gun. Make sure it is stored unloaded in a locked gun safe or a lockbox. The ammunition should be stored in a locked box in a separate location. In addition, trigger locks are effective and inexpensive.
  2. Talk to your children. Make it a point to remind your kids that if they ever come across a gun, they must stay away from it and tell you immediately. Do this on a regular basis.
  3. Question other parents. When you’re planning for your kids to visit another home, don’t hesitate to ask: “Is there an unlocked gun in your house?” Treat this the same way that you would your concerns about pets, allergies, or access to a swimming pool. As a reminder to parents, the AAP has designated June 21 as ASK Day for “Asking Saves Kids.”

Enacting common-sense gun legislation will certainly take time. Implementing your own safety measures is something you can do immediately.

Additional Resource:
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the Gun Safety Campaign Toolkit

To watch my full ABC interview, click here

Peter W. McCauley, Sr. has a 30 year track record of profitable, inclusive health care leadership. He is a well-respected, actively practicing pediatrician serving Chicago’s far south side for over 24 years. His expertise in value-based health care, combined with the ability to lead and influence provider groups and hospital systems to adopt this reimbursement model vs. standard fee for service, helps to improve quality outcomes for patients while making health care more affordable for all.

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