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Ohio Promotes Firearms Safety

Photo by Shelley Hanson Officer Tom Siburt of the Martins Ferry Police Department demonstrates proper use of a gun lock at the department on Friday.

MARTINS FERRY — Whether for home defense, a hobby or for their profession, people all across the country own firearms. And with so many guns out there, an Ohio-based group is promoting safety when it comes to guns and children in the home.

The Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is working with firearm owners and others in the Buckeye State to launch an initiative in November called “Store it Safe Awareness Month.” The purpose of the initiative is to promote the safe storage of firearms and safe behavior around them. According to information from Ohio AAP, one in three homes with children throughout the nation has a firearm in the house, and “nearly 1.7 million kids live in a home with a loaded and unlocked firearm.”

Even in the Ohio Valley, experts say, people are sometimes lax with keeping their weapons safe and secure. Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland said there have been “plenty of times” when local gun owners didn’t have their firearms locked up; consequently, he said, they could get into the hands of a child.

“We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve never had a tragic incident where something happened,” McFarland said of firearms safety and children.

“There’s a lot of situations where an accidental discharge could happen, and a kid could get hurt as a result.”

The chief said taking steps to secure your guns is pretty simple. He said the easiest way to ensure safety is to keep guns locked up securely in a safe or in a storage container, out of reach of children or others who shouldn’t have access to the weapons. Parents can also take time to sit down with their children and explain why it is important to be careful around firearms, even if there isn’t one in their house.

McFarland said he was curious about guns when he was growing up, as there weren’t any in his house. Now that he has children of his own and carries a gun as part of his job, he said he has worked with his children to instill knowledge of how to properly treat guns.

He said he’s gone shooting with them and explained to them the damage that one shot can do to the human body. Proper respect and keeping the weapon locked up until it is needed will go a long way toward keeping firearms out of young hands, he noted.

“Educate your kids,” McFarland urged. “If you do have guns in the house, teach them the right way to treat and handle a gun. Take every precaution you can to keep them in a safe place where kids don’t see them or have access.”

Store It Safe Awareness Month is supported by the Ohio AAP and the Partnership for Safety of Children Around Firearms, which includes Buckeye Firearms Association, Black Wing Shooting Center, Kiwanis Club of Columbus and other interested parties. For more information about firearm safety and Ohio AAP’s initiatives, visit ohioaap.org/firearmsafety.

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