Aim for safety. Safe storage. Safe children. Safe play.
When we have firearms in our homes, we must take certain steps to protect our children from unintentional shootings. Cook Children's Aim for Safety® initiative is designed to help reduce the number injuries we see every year among children through gun safety education. This is not about whether guns are right or wrong. It's about taking the necessary steps to protect our children.
When the holiday unwrapping is done, make sure safe handling has begun!
Non-powder guns are a popular gift item. To kids, and even adults, they may look like toys, but they should be handled like guns. BB guns, paint balls guns, gel and water bead guns, etc., that are thought of as toys can still be dangerous. These items should have parental supervision to ensure the toys are used safely and that children are not showing signs of aggression or worrisome behavior. Help your kids learn and follow the 3-step rules.
During the holidays and summer months, many children are at home alone and gain access to guns more frequently. Children are also in family and friends' homes that have guns. So parents and caretakers should always ensure safe storage in your own home and the homes you visit. Make sure non-powder guns are also stored correctly.
- Store firearms unloaded and in locked locations, out of reach of children.
- Use trigger locks and gun boxes.
- Secure ammunition separately.
- Hide gun safe and trigger lock keys.
- Keep unlocked guns in your possession.
- Make sure all guns are equipped with effective, child-resistant gun locks.
- If a visitor has a gun in a backpack, briefcase, handbag, or unlocked car, provide them with a locked place to keep it when in your home.
If your child sees a real gun or sees someone aiming a toy gun at others, teach them to:
- Don't touch.
- Run away.
- Tell a grown up.
- When non-powder guns are in use, there are a few things to remember to help prevent injury:
- Never aim BB guns or pellet guns at another person
- When using a paint ball gun, gel bead gun, water bead gun, or soft foam gun, players should be properly attired and wear safety glasses at all times.
- Ask the parents of your child's friends if they have guns in their homes and how they are being stored.
- If you are asked about your guns, don't be offended.
- Aim for Safety is for advocating gun safety and gun safety only.
- This information is to aid gun owners in protecting not only their own children, but also those that enter their home.
Why are these steps important?
"It won't happen to us" is a common theme among children and accidental injuries such as gun shootings. However, the numbers tell a different story.
Most firearm injuries and deaths occur in young children and teens, and many of these are due to a firearm that was not safely locked away. From 2017 to 2020, Cook Children’s treated 38 unintentional injuries related to firearms and handguns, which increased in 2020.1 From 2017 to 2020, Cook Children’s treated 128 unintentional injuries caused by other guns, (i.e., air guns, paintball guns, BB guns), with the most injuries among 10–14 year olds.1
Of households with guns in the eight-county service area, 1 in 5 children lives in a home with guns that are not always safely locked away (locking up the firearm and storing ammunition in a separate location).2
10% of young children, 20% of 6–11 year olds and 30% of 12–17 year olds live in a home with a gun that is not always safely locked away.2
We can't assume that a child doesn't know where the guns in the house are hidden or that they do not know how to operate one. Children are exposed to violence and guns through media and video games and it may be difficult for them to separate which one is real and which one is not.
You must explain to your kids how a gun on TV or a video game is much different than one in real life. In addition, BB and pellet guns have been proven to be dangerous, despite the common belief that they are harmless.
Here are a few very important reasons to do the Aim for Safety 3 step:
- 19 children killed or injured daily
- 350 million guns in the U.S.
- 1 of 3 homes with kids have guns
- 1,300 children die yearly due to gun related death
- Over 500 children killed or injured in Texas yearly due to gun related death
- 36% of Texas households own a gun
- 199,000 children in Texas live with unlocked loaded firearms
- Harris and Tarrant counties have the highest number of registered firearms
- 54% of cases seen by Cook Children's from 2012-16 occurred in the home
- 350 million guns are estimated in the United States
- 1 in 3 homes with kids <17 have guns
- 1,300 children die annually due to gun related injuries
- 500+ children (ages 0-18) are injured or killed
- 36% of Texas households own a gun
- 199,000 children live with unlocked, loaded firearms
- In 2019 at least 32 children were killed from unintentional shootings
Local, Cook Children's data:
- The majority of injuries treated at Cook Children's are school age and unintentional
- Many injuries are due to guns that may not seem dangerous such as airguns, BB guns, but can cause serious injuries as well as death
- Injuries to the head, neck and extremities are most common
Gun safety is crucial for caregivers to navigate as their kids visit family and have playdates with friends. These simple conversation starters can help save lives.
- "I know this is kind of awkward, but I have to ask: Do you have guns in the home? And if so, how are they stored? My kids' safety is too important for me to be afraid of having the conversation."
- "I know the kids have hung out quite a bit, but my son has never been over to your house so I want to confirm a couple of things: Will an adult be at the house the whole time? Also, I heard a story on the news that made me decide I should always ask this-do you have any firearms, and how are they stored?"
- "Before I drop my daughter off, I just wanted to ask if you have firearms in your home and confirm how they are stored. I want to make sure she knows your safety rules as well."
- "We just had our yearly check-up and our pediatrician said gun related injuries are on the rise. With that being said, I wanted to ask if you have any unsecured guns in your home?"
- "Do you require your child to still sit in a car seat or booster seat? Do you have pets? Are there any food allergies? Do you have guns in your home? Are they secure?"
- "I heard on the news last night over 1/3 of homes have guns and many of those guns are left unlocked and loaded. For this reason, I need to ask if you have an unsecured gun in your home."
Who should you be having these conversations with?
- Family members
- Party host
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like any of the following:
- Request presentation
- Pintables: slim card, ages and stages brochure (English/Spanish)
- Gun safety collateral: Gun locks, Aim for Safety erasers, Aim for Safety slim cards (English/Spanish), Aim for Safety brochure (English/Spanish)
Gun safety research project
Cook Children's is looking for parents of children ages 4-12 years old to participate in a gun safety research project.
Project is on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions
The study takes place on the Cook Children's main campus in Fort Worth, TX, and participants must be willing to attend the onsite sessions.
- Participating in the study is completely FREE.
- Study includes one visit to Cook Children's Medical Center and two follow-up phone calls.
- Parents will receive information on how they can obtain free firearm safety devices.
This project is being conducted by Dan Guzman, M.D., a Cook Children's Emergency Department physician.
If you are interested in participating, please submit this short survey:
NOTE: If you are logged into a Cook Children's computer, or accessing Cook Children's wi-fi network, please use this link instead:
1 hour (Virtual - Zoom)
When we have firearms in our homes, we must take certain steps to protect our children from accidental shootings. The purpose of this presentation is not political or whether to own a firearm or not. It is to engage our community, provide education and awareness about firearm safety and safe storage practices, in an effort to reduce child gun injuries.
Questions or comments
If you have any questions or would like more information about our program, please email email@example.com.
1Cook Children’s Health Care System. Health Care Analytics and Trauma Registry Departments. 2021.
2 Community-wide Children’s Health Assessment and Planning Survey (CCHAPS) (2021). Cook Children’s Health Care System. Fort Worth, Texas.