Gun-owning parents who think their children don’t know where firearms are kept or haven’t handled the weapons without permission may be in for a disturbing surprise, says the Washington Post. A new study involving 201 parents and an equal number of their children found that 39 percent of kids knew the location of their parents’ firearms, while 22 percent said they had handled the weapons, despite their parents’ assertions to the contrary. Parents who had talked to their children about gun safety were just as likely to be misinformed about their children’s actions as those who said they never had discussed it.
“Children are really curious and have lots of things in their home that parents have no intention of letting them find — but they do,” said Matthew Miller of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and co-author of the study in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The study is the first to compare the responses of parents and their children, ages 5 to 14, who were interviewed separately. Age was not a factor in whether children had handled weapons. Five-year-olds were just as likely to report doing so as 14-year-olds. Miller advises parents to lock unloaded weapons in a place separate from ammunition, which should also be locked. Guns should be accessible only by a key the parent carries at all times.