Tomorrow, as pretty much every kid knows, is the first official day of summer. June 21st also marks another day, one that’s more important: ASK day.
It’s the annual effort dubbed “Asking Saves Kids,” a campaign that tries to get parents to ask if there are guns in the homes where their children play.
About a third of U.S. homes have a gun in them. And, five percent of American homes where a child lives not only have guns in them, but a loaded gun according to a 2005 study by researchers from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
The study also found that among homes with children in them, two percent had guns that were both loaded and unlocked.
These percentages seem small, but they vary widely by state. And, in raw numbers, they translate into about 1.7 million children living in homes where a gun is stored.
Earlier this month, to provide a horrible for instance, an 11-year-old Harford, County, Md. boy was shot accidentally and killed by his 8 year-old brother. The two had gone to help an elderly neighbor and had apparently found the gun there.
I wrote about gun safety this spring (in the aftermath of this year’s Ohio school shootings) and received several responses from readers who said that they owned guns and had, responsibly, taught their children the basics of gun safety.
That’s important for every family who owns a gun.
But I can attest from personal experience that for those of us who don’t, it might not be a topic that crosses our minds much. I’ve never broached the subject of guns with any parents of my daughters’ friends.
This is exactly the problem.
A more recent survey released this April by the Center to Prevent Youth Violence, which founded ASK day with the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2000, found more troubling statistics about attitudes toward guns and children.
Only 23 percent of parents reported ever asking about guns in the homes of their children’s’ friends.
It also found that many parents feel uncomfortable about asking, but only 7 percent of parents surveyed said they would feel uncomfortable being asked.
In other words, it’s extremely unlikely anyone would take offense to the simple and vital question.
Have you asked? Will you now?