Arkansas doctor stresses importance of gun safety

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Christmas is just days away and if you are one of the many last minute shoppers, we may have an out of the ordinary gift idea for you – a gun safety tool. 

Dr. Joe Thompson, President and CEO of Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, considers gun safety a public health issue. 

This fall, researchers from JAMA Pediatrics analyzed over 16,000 pediatric visits from the last year and a half, focusing on the topic of firearms.

The study found that the number two cause of death for American children is still firearm-related injuries. 

Thompson said some of these deaths are simply by accident when guns aren’t properly secured at home.

“This is such a simple solution for a tragedy that no family wants to go through,” he said. 

Thompson said for children, aged one to 19, 15% of all deaths in the United States are firearm-related. 

“Only motor vehicle accidents are more, and it’s ten times more than burns or other causes of injuries that we worry about,” he said.

Thompson said this is an issue that has been climbing in the past couple of years. 

“I think the exposure of kids to firearms on television, on video games, and others are probably causing them to be more curious,” he said. 

This increase in wonder is exactly why Thompson said he is alarming parents to take necessary precautions when storing their firearms. 

“This is the opportunity for $8 to buy a very sturdy gun lock, or even less than that, to buy a trigger lock to safeguard the firearms that are in your homes,” he said. 

Bryan Hearn, owner of American Tiger Firearms, said training your children is the key thing. 

“Teach them, show them, do things with them,” he said. 

Hearn said every gun that is sold at his store comes with a safety lock, but the education is what it all comes down to. 

“Don’t make it something sacred that that’s going to hide out of the way. They never find our Christmas presents, right? No, they’re going to find them,” he said. 

If you are keeping your gun loaded for protection, Hearn said there are other tools besides a gun-lock you can use, like a safe with a code or even disguisers, like a duck plaque or bible, where the kids would never guess what could be inside. 

“Even trained people, military and police officers, have had accidental discharges. It can happen to anybody that’s working with a firearm. It’s just like driving a car, it’s a piece of machinery that’s all it is. Human hands is what makes it do things,” he said. 

Also important to know, the Little Rock Police Department gives out free gun-locks year round at each patrol station.

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