Half of US kids spend time with firearms

New York, Sep 15 (IANS) About half of the children in the US spend time in homes that have firearms kept for safety purposes, a study has found.

According to the study, although most parents said they were open to such discussions, one-third of the parents who own firearms indicated they did not want to be asked about household firearms and would take offence to or ignore physician advice to remove guns from home.

“A conversation about firearm safety needs to happen between parents and physicians, but it is not. Physicians are concerned about offending and losing patients, and in many states, physicians face legal restrictions,” said Jane M. Garbutt, Professor at the Washington University School of Medicine.

The researchers surveyed 1,246 parents living in urban, suburban and rural parts of the US.

Among them, 447 — or 36 per cent — reported firearms in the children’s homes and two-thirds of these parents owned more than one firearm.

An additional 14 per cent of parents who reported no household firearms said their children regularly visited the homes of relatives and friends who owned guns.

Slightly more than 20 per cent of the parents who owned firearms kept their guns and ammunition in the same location and 25 per cent reported at least one firearm currently was loaded and 14 per cent indicated they were accessible to children.

Eighteen percent of gun owners said that when leaving their homes, they carried the weapons in purses, backpacks, holsters or inside their cars.

“The study’s findings can influence clinical practice. We are using this information to develop a communication strategy for physicians. We plan to test it to see if parents are receptive to it,” Garbutt added.

Researchers in the study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, found that parents may be willing to discuss firearms in a health-care setting and 75 per cent believed pediatricians should advise about safe storage of firearms.

“If we treat firearm safety like we do other safety-proofing precautions, it removes judgement. It’s similar to advising parents to keep medications and household poisons such as bleach locked up and secure,” Garbutt said.

–IANS

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