By Olivia Schueller and Rob Polansky
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CONNECTICUT (WFSB) — Guns are getting into the wrong hands, and one Connecticut gun owner is advocating for others to lock up their firearms at home.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said 4.6 million American children live in homes with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked.
Experts said that could be a matter of life and death.
“Safe storage is critical,” said Brendan Campbell, pediatric surgeon at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.
In addition to being a pediatric surgeon at Connecticut Children’s, Campbell said he is a gun owner with two teens at home.
Working with children, he said he’s seen too many incidents where guns in the home play a role in children’s hospital visits.
“We saw an uptick in all types of gun injuries during the pandemic, and we saw an increase in suicide by firearm, [and] we saw an increase of homicide by firearm,” Campbell said.
If a parent or family member leaves a gun within reach and unlocked, Campbell said it increases the risk of accidental shootings, homicide, and suicide deaths.
In fact, suicide is the most common firearm death. Recent studies in the state have caused concern.
“About four in 30 teenagers in Connecticut have thought about suicide within the last 12 months,” Campbell said. “That tells you the risk is real.”
The National Rifle Association said there are safe ways to keep guns out of kids’ reach.
It said trigger locks are an affordable way to block the action of a firearm.
The NRA also recommended steal gun safes or lock boxes. Gun owners could even get a separate lock box designated just for ammunition.
Campbell recommended that parents with guns in their homes sit down and talk to their children.
“I wish more parents would realize that a lot of times, kids have unrealistic understanding,” he said. “For younger kids, it’s very difficult to distinguish between a fake and a real gun.”
When it comes to deaths by accidental shootings, state Rep. Sean Scanlon, now Connecticut’s comptroller, said he has worked to try and eliminate the risks.
In 2019, Ethan’s Law was passed.
“It ensured that every gun in Connecticut, that’s in a house where there is a minor, it is safely stored,” Scanlon explained. “That law is saving lives. People who have unsafely stored a gun have been charged with the law and have faced prosecution because of it.”
It was created after Guilford teenager Ethan Song accidentally shot himself at a friend’s home with an un-secure handgun.
Scanlon said more can be done with the law on a national level.
“I’m hoping Ethan’s parents will have success passing this in the United States Congress where they’ve been fighting for three years to pass this, because I think the entire country could benefit from what Ethan’s law did here,” he said.
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