The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.
I was fifteen-years-old when I took my hunter safety course. I was at my relatives' home showing them what I learned. I took down a rifle, which was incorrectly stored in the basement between the floor joists, and proceeded to make it safe. As I opened up the action of the rifle, I was totally surprised. I ejected a live shell. Yes! A bullet! Nearly all childhood unintentional shooting deaths occur in or around the home. Most of those shooting deaths involve firearms that have been loaded and accessible to children. The big problem in Canada and the United States is that many children between the ages of 5 and 14 have died from unintentional firearms injuries, during recreational activities or at home. Remember, children are curious by nature and will eagerly explore their environment! To protect our children, we childproof our homes and make sure those dangerous chemicals, prescription drugs, and sharp objects are locked away. We tell our children that they should not talk to strangers or spend time with kids who are breaking the law or taking drugs. The same steps must be taken to keep children from firearm injuries. Unrealistic perceptions of children's capabilities and behavioural tendencies with regard to firearms are common. Often, people misunderstand a child's ability to gain access to and fire a gun, distinguish between real and toy guns, make good judgments about handling a gun, and consistently follow rules about gun safety. If there is a firearm in your home, it should be unloaded and locked away from the sight and reach of children. Bullets should always be stored in a separate, locked place! Children should be taught to tell an adult if they find or see a firearm. They must realize that if they see bullets, a gun, or anything that looks like a gun, leave the area and tell an adult immediately. It is important to stress to children that guns can kill or cause lifelong disabilities and pain.