Half of US Kids Hang Out in Homes With Firearms

Some states ban pediatricians from even discussing guns with families
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2016 7:34 AM CDT
Half of US Kids Hang Out in Homes With Firearms
Gun rights activist Siri Davidson, center, has her AR15 slung on her back, as she walks with her children Keaton, 2, and Porter, 5, during a march for the 2nd Amendment rights Saturday, March 2, 2013, in Salt Lake City.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

In the US, it's estimated there are now more guns than there are people, as the Washington Post reported in 2015, so it may not be too surprising that about half of children regularly spend time in homes with firearms. Less well known is that, while an average of 47 kids under the age of 20 died each week from firearm-related incidents in 2013, "in many states, physicians face legal restrictions" when it comes to even discussing guns with families. So says one of the authors of a Washington University study published in the Journal of Pediatrics; the study notes that even in places where such conversations are legal, physicians are "concerned about offending and losing patients" and tend to avoid discussing firearm safety. Indeed, the researchers found just 13% of parents had discussed guns with their pediatrician.

After surveying 1,246 parents in Missouri and Illinois pediatricians' waiting rooms in 2015, researchers found that 36% of parents reported having firearms in the child's home and another 14% reported that their child regularly visits the homes of people with guns. Of those with guns, 20% said they keep their guns and ammunition in the same place and 3.5% said loaded firearms are accessible to children. In states where discussing guns with doctors is illegal, such as Florida, doctors who break the ban risk losing their medical licenses, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Researchers call for treating firearm safety like other safety issues, such as locking up medicine and household cleaners; 71% of surveyed parents who own guns were in favor of pediatricians advising about the safe storage of firearms. (See how this woman was shot by her 2-year-old.)

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