Gun safety highlighted during coronavirus crisis

Gun safety amid COVID-19

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Each day, eight kids are injured or killed from an accidental shooting in the home, according to the gun violence prevention group Brady.

President Kris Brown is hoping to stop these tragedies through a public awareness campaign called End Family Fire.

“It’s important to focus in a way that you may not have before of the risks that are in your own home," said Brown.

Brown says now is a good time for gun owners to double-check that their firearms are safely stored if kids are going to be around.

“Think about it as child-proofing, right? It’s the same thing," explained Brown. “You may save a life.”

Brady shares a few tips: if kids are present, keep guns unloaded and locked away, store ammunition in a separate place, and keep items where children cannot gain access. She says spots that may work are a garage or high shelf.

She encourages parents and caretakers to start a conversation in an open and non-judgmental way. Brown says you can think of it like checking in as any other type of kid safety, like asking about food allergies or whether another homeowner has a pool.

“So think about it as in this time where we’re coming together in a different way as communities, how we can all not just protect our own kids but each other’s kids as well," said Brown.

Brown is also concerned about the wave of firearms and ammunition sales for new gun owners, who recently purchased their first firearm amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She worries with many businesses closed, these folks may not have had a chance to go through the traditional in-person safety training courses.

“This is not an anti-gun message, this is a safe storage message," said Brown.

The FBI conducted 3.7 million gun background checks in March alone, setting a record since the national program took effect in 1998.

NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide says police departments and other government agencies are inundated with managing the coronavirus crisis, with officials themselves becoming victims to the virus. He thinks that’s triggering the spike in gun and ammunition sales.

“And knowing that the federal, state and local response is going to be limited at best – it’s a time where they’ve decided to accept the responsibility to protect themselves, and their loved ones and their home if such a case arrives," said Dalseide.

Dalseide says the NRA offers online safety classes. But he says in-person instruction is still highly recommended.

“We do expect all law-abiding gun owners are going to be safe and responsible with those firearms, and make sure that whatever safety concerns are in their house, that they are met," said Dalseide.

He says there are three cardinal rules: always treat the gun as if it’s loaded, always point down range and never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to pull.

But Dalseide adds that the gun storage protocols from household to household may differ.

“If we’re talking about a woman living at home, by herself, then obviously her needs and safety and concerns of gun storage are going to be different than a man with a wife and three kids at home. Every household is going to have different needs and responsibilities," said Dalseide.

And with the stress of the coronavirus, experts say they’re also keeping an eye on whether suicide, domestic violence and child abuse cases are on the rise.

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