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One simple question that could save your child's life

Published in Behavioral Health Services, Child Advocacy Services Author: M. Kim Hellier, PhD, LP

Awkward conversations come with being a parent, but one could save your child’s life. Every day, across America, eight kids are shot in unintentional gun shootings. Many of these shootings occur in the room where the firearm was stored unlocked and loaded. 

The good news is that these shootings are preventable and Minnesota has one of the lowest rates of accidental child gun deaths in the nation.

Today is June 21, the first day of summer. It is a season when children spend more time playing in the homes of friends, neighbors and relatives, often unsupervised. It is also National ASK Day (Asking Saves Kids), a campaign developed with the American Academy of Pediatrics with the goal to remind parents about the importance of asking if there are unlocked firearms in the homes where their children play.

Parents ask many questions to assess their children’s safety. And yet, parents are often reluctant to ask the question about unsecured firearms. In a survey, nearly 95 percent of parents reported feeling comfortable being asked this question.

So don’t hesitate, before your child plays or visits with someone, ask the question: "Do you have an unlocked gun in your home?" If the answer is no, then you have one less thing to worry about. If the answer is yes, or if you have any doubts about safety in any home, invite the kids to play in your home instead.

Talking to your children about gun safety is another important task and involves the following instructions. First, if you see a gun, STOP; don’t touch it even if it looks like a toy; run away and tell a grown up. Children as young as three can understand these simple directions.

This is not about politics or gun ownership, this is about child safety. Hiding guns is not enough. Talking to your kids about gun safety is not enough. Children are curious and if they find a gun, they’ll play with it. That’s why all firearms should be stored unloaded and locked, ideally in a gun safe. Ammunition should be locked and stored separately.

If you do this, it will keep your firearms from falling into the wrong hands. Learn more about National ASK Day by visiting