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Save your kid's life: Ask about guns
June 21st, 2011
03:33 PM ET

Save your kid's life: Ask about guns

In addition to being CNNHealth’s Living Well expert, Dr. Jennifer Shu is a practicing pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. She also blogs regularly for The Chart on kids’ health.

In the days when my son had playdates at our house with new toddler friends, I used a standard line: “Does your child have any allergies? And just so you know, we don’t have any pets or guns in our house.”

At the risk of going seemingly overboard before a visit, I wanted to volunteer some information in hopes of reassuring the child’s parents about any safety concerns they might have. My added hope was that they would then share information about a dog in their home (since my son was allergic) or guns they might have that are unloaded and locked out of reach from the kids, etc. for my own future reference.

Fortunately I never was in the situation of needing to use a child’s allergy autoinector during a playdate and I don’t have a swimming pool that a little one could accidentally fall into - and I can’t tell you the number of times a patient has reported an injury from a trampoline or a fall down the stairs at someone else’s house - but these safety issues are more common than one would like to think.

The idea of asking and telling comes to mind since June 21 (the first day of summer every year) is National ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Day and specifically addresses the question “Is there a gun where my child plays?” Over 40% of children under age 18 live in a home with a firearm, and many of these firearms are loaded and unlocked. Further, firearm injuries are the second-leading cause of death between 1 and 21 years of age.

[An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to firearm injuries as the leading cause of death between ages 1 and 21.]

The concept of health care professionals asking about guns has garnered a lot of press now that new law in Florida prohibits physicians from counseling patients about gun safety in the home. The American Academy of Pediatrics and numerous other health advocates steadfastly oppose such legislation. For more information, a commentary from AAP President Dr. Marion Burton, can be found here: http://www.aap.org/president. But even if physicians can’t legally ask about gun safety in the home, other parents can.

We all have our safety concerns when our children are in the care of others, from food allergies to animal bites to gun safety and more. Rather than being left wondering, aren’t you better off asking?


soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. mercenary76

    Sounds like another liberal yankee .

    June 21, 2011 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Semper4tis81

      A liberal yankee with a very valid point. I believe in the right to bear arms, but I also believe in responsible ownership. Having been a weapons technician for my first few years in the Navy, I have a healthy respect for their destructive potential. If you have kids, lock up your guns. It's common sense.

      June 21, 2011 at 21:06 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Patton

      Are you kidding me? If one of my children's friend's parents asked me this questions I would respond, none of your damn business. The reason it's the 2nd leading cause of death is because of punk ass gang bangers and other assorted idiots not because your neighbor owns a gun.

      June 21, 2011 at 22:47 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      I don't know why I even read this! die hard liberals with guns, where did that come from? Blaming guns on the deaths of 1-21, (which is incorrect) I think this is all crap! What are we trying to convince the loyal cnn followers of here?

      June 21, 2011 at 23:21 | Report abuse |
    • dm

      I agree with Semper4tis81. Why is it that I often hear so called conservatives preaching personal responsibility yet when someone educated proposes that people do exactly that, the cons immediately rear their ugly heads and start screaming "liberal"? Are you that insecure in your own ideologies? I think the truth is people like you simply LOVE to complain. Golly gee I thought that the "lazy libs" were supposedly the "crybabies"...

      June 22, 2011 at 01:20 | Report abuse |
  2. SayWhat?

    Say what? This is such a crock of... The problem is not guns, gun laws, or even liberal opinion. The problem is lack of education in America (and most of the world). We grew up with guns in our home (as did most of the people in middle class America), and there was never an issue with them being in the house. We as kids never played with them and we knew better as a gun misused can kill someone. I myself never owned a gun until I was 40, and then it is from 1891...

    June 21, 2011 at 15:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ruth

      Plenty of people who grew up with guns have ended up dead or with dead children.

      June 21, 2011 at 18:56 | Report abuse |
    • qanerd

      Ruth: And many more have not. Lots more people with cars have been killed. I say ban 'em

      June 21, 2011 at 19:33 | Report abuse |
    • Odin

      Ruth,
      |
      You really need to look at the actual data. A child is more likely to die in a fall than a firearm accident.
      |
      And yes, I can back that statement up.

      June 21, 2011 at 20:41 | Report abuse |
    • Percysmama

      Yes and the facts are out there that if you own a gun you or your children have a much higher risk of being killed by one. There are stories about once a year of a 5 or 6 year old, shooting themselves or a friend. Sad. Why have a gun?

      June 21, 2011 at 21:36 | Report abuse |
    • Odin

      Percysmama
      |
      Stats can be funny things. A firearm is 99.999999% of firearms will not be used in such a way. There are ways to deal with having firearms in the house which further reduce the likelyhood a firearm will be used in such a way. There is no reason to get rid of firearms in the house.

      June 21, 2011 at 21:45 | Report abuse |
    • Percysmama

      Odin it still does not change the fact that my kids will not shoot themselves or others in my house and that some kid this year will, because there was a firearm in their house. That is cold hard fact, not just stats. No gun, no kid shooting themselves.

      June 21, 2011 at 22:27 | Report abuse |
    • Odin

      Unloaded firearm under lock and key with kids who are taught to not touch it, my kids won't get shot either. And they never did. Very simple steps take the already miniscule risks and practically eliminate them. Your kids are in more danger from the stuff you keep under your sink and in your medical cabinent then from properly stored firearms. So unless you keep a locked HAZMAT locker out in the garage, your argument fails.

      June 21, 2011 at 22:35 | Report abuse |
  3. Seriously?

    I want the citation that "firearm injuries are the leading cause of death between 1 and 21 years of age". I don't buy it.

    June 21, 2011 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Seriously?

      I'm betting gang related activity heavily influences this "statistic".

      June 21, 2011 at 16:05 | Report abuse |
    • John Galt

      That stat is a flat out lie. A simple google search will provide you with the real leading cause. I'll give you a hint, it's something you drive on a road.

      This article should be pulled our edited.

      June 21, 2011 at 16:24 | Report abuse |
    • Chad

      Just more anti gun PROPAGANDA! Gun Injuries are the leading cause of death for those under 21. Dr. Shu you are a joke!

      June 21, 2011 at 16:38 | Report abuse |
    • Gideon

      They include police shootings, accidents, crime, suicide, and anything that also has a gun in the story.

      June 21, 2011 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
    • MadJerry

      Me too. I would like to see it charted on a graph too. Even if it is true in a strict sense I would be willing to bet large that the majority of those "gun deaths" are in the 18-21 crowd and the 16-18 crowd. With those to groups removed I would like to see what the biggest cause of kids 1-16 is then. If my hypothesis is true, It is intellectually dishonest to use something that is mostly dangerous to the oldest kids, outside of the home, to justify asking about guns in a home presumably for the safety of younger children.

      June 21, 2011 at 18:55 | Report abuse |
    • tonyspdx

      Leading cause of death of children
      1-4 yr = motor vehicle accidents 13.9%
      5-14 = Motor vehicle accidents 5.2%
      14-24 = Motorvehicle accidents 29.3%

      14-24 = Homicide and legal intervention 18%
      = Suicide 12.1%

      Younger ages had less then 1%

      June 21, 2011 at 19:25 | Report abuse |
    • concerned citizen

      yea, i thought it was car accidents as the leading cause

      June 21, 2011 at 19:38 | Report abuse |
  4. Ben From CT

    Gun Owner's need to be responsible and keep their guns locked up when not in use if there are children around. I don't agree however that poeple need to be asked if there is a gun in their home, that is just getting nosy. There is an unfair stigma attached to guns. A child could get access to any number of household products which could cause serious injury. Is a concerned parent going to ask, "do you have any knives in the house, any power tools etc?" The world can be a dangerous place and its up to the kid's parents to teach the kid how to be safe like when you see something that is dangerous stay away from it.

    June 21, 2011 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PG

      Agreed – and I would add "is there electricity in your house? Will my child be riding in your car?" I'm from the mid south... Most of my friends are die-hard liberals, and we all have guns. I have two daughters 7 and 3 and have all my guns locked up where they can't get to them. Where I live, you'd be better off assuming the answer to the question about guns in the house being "yes" and educating your kids when they are old enough to understand.

      June 21, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
    • Gideon

      Everyone should be teaching their kids basic firearm safety. Then no one needs to ask any questions because kids will know not to tpuch a firearm that does not belong to them and without supervision.

      June 21, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
    • geoff beneze

      Gideon, I agree that all kids should have firearms (or at least firearms safety) training. Given the (positive) history of firearms in the US along with our Second Amendment, I am firm in the belief that such classes should be taught in the schools.

      Our kids have had safety rules ingrained since they were toddlers, and have handled firearms since they were old enough to have sufficient coordination. Oddly, these kids have never wanted toy guns (other than water squirters) or played toy guns. They have always had the 'real thing' if they wanted to go shoot.

      The only way children are ever made safe is by having the knowledge to avoid potential dangers.

      June 21, 2011 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous Coward

      Y'know ... I WOULD ask "will my child be riding in your car?" There are people I do not think are safe drivers, and I bloody well want to know if their driving skills (or lack thereof) are going to be involved. That's just common sense. Why are guns suddenly so special and so mystical that you can't talk about them?

      June 21, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse |
    • slobro

      If you teach your children gun safety you don't need to worry about such things. I grew up with guns and KNEW that they weren't toys because I was taught proper safety.

      June 21, 2011 at 18:42 | Report abuse |
  5. Eric

    Why was it never mentioned in the article about what you should teach your children if they should ever come across a carelessly left firearm? Education will save lives and it starts by educating your children. When I was a kid, my father (an avid firearms collector) taught me a healthy respect (NOT fear) of guns. I will teach my kids the same thing. Instilling fear in them is not the answer. Education and a reduction of media- and liberal-induced ignorance is the answer.

    June 21, 2011 at 16:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gideon

      Liberial induced ignorance kills kids – then, because they use those deaths to say, "Told you so, guns kill kids."

      June 21, 2011 at 16:42 | Report abuse |
  6. USAproud

    "Further, firearm injuries are the leading cause of death between 1 and 21 years of age." Way to misinterpret facts, the CDC actually states that UNINTENTIONAL INJURIES are the leading cause of death in all children ages 1-21. While firearms may cause some of those injuries it's simply wrong the say firearms are THE leading cause. Teach your children not to play with guns and to respect them instead of just saying "guns are bad" and you won't have this problem.

    June 21, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Charles

    All of the online sources that I consulted agree that the number one cause of death in the 1 to 21 year old age range is motor vehicle accidents. Deaths due to firearms are way on down the line.

    June 21, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. American

    Your kid is safer in my house with the guns than he would be without them. I don't know that it's safe for my kid to visit your gunless house. You're telling me you have no ability whatsoever to protect my child when he's in your care. You may as well tell me you have no locks on your doors. I grew up having access to my father's loaded gun – no problems, because he taught me gun safety, and respect for the weapon. Gun-proofing your kids is much more effective than trying to kid-proof your guns.

    June 21, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. bill

    That's a good start, but you're not going far enough:
    Do you have:
    Knives?
    Forks?
    Hot water (scalding)?
    Stairs?
    Electrical Outlets?
    Ceiling Fans?
    Blinds with pull cords?
    Carpet?
    Windows?
    Doors?
    Garage Door?
    Lawn Darts?
    Hockey Sticks?
    Pool Table?
    Pool Balls?
    Legos?
    Link'n Logs?

    In fact, unless you're planning on sitting in a soft chair, not moving or doing anything (better hope the termites haven't eaten all the rafters over your head) you might as well just roll over and die because somethings going to kill you...

    June 21, 2011 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gideon

      You teach children to safely play with or avoid...
      Knives?
      Forks?
      Hot water (scalding)?
      Stairs?
      Electrical Outlets?
      Ceiling Fans?
      Blinds with pull cords?
      Carpet?
      Windows?
      Doors?
      Garage Door?
      Lawn Darts?
      Hockey Sticks?
      Pool Table?
      Pool Balls?
      Legos?
      Link'n Logs?

      Who not teach them to be aroudn firearms safely by teaching them? Or is education the new no no?

      June 21, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
  10. Jim

    Several years ago I saw an investigation where an unloaded gun was placed in a childs play area. Very few of the children who found the gun knew what to do. They pointed it at each other. Played with it. This was a large hand gun. Heavy, (several kids had trouble holding it up) pretty obvious it wasn't a toy. I don't remember any of them calling for an adult.

    Even if you don't own a gun, TEACH your children gun safety. Refresh their training at least once a year. Remind them that watching another person mishandle a gun means putting yourself at risk.

    Asking if there is a gun in the home doen't keep our children safe. Teaching them gun safety does.

    June 21, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Phil

      Whoever performed said "investigation" is an outright idiot and guilty of gross negligence and child endangerment. First rule in gun safety: A gun is ALWAYS loaded. Any fool that will purposely leave a gun out where children can play with it, point it at each other, etc. is no one I want teaching my children anything.

      June 21, 2011 at 16:48 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Phil,

      This was, I think (it's been several years), a 20/20 Special Report – not some idiot making a home movie. The gun was real, but unloaded and the firing pin was removed. Parents watched through a one-way mirror. You missed the point of the controlled – keyword controlled – experiment . . . when kids find a gun and have have no firearms training they assume it's a toy and bad things happen.

      June 23, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
  11. Conrad Shull

    18, 19, 20 and 21 year olds are not children, but if her reading audience is simple minded, the author can imply they are and jack up already phony stats. Dr. Shu, can you spell "mendacity"?

    June 21, 2011 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. M Johnson

    The author should quote her source. As another poster pointed out there are sources (Freakonomics) than cite swimming pools as 10 times more dangerous than firearms in a household (this may be discounting gang violence) There may be some set of statistics that can be used to show guns high on a list of child mortality, but clearly swimming pools and motor vehicle accidents account for the majority of deaths among non-gang involved households. She would be better off asking (as she alludes to but seems to gloss over) whether there is a swimming pool at the house, or any motor vehicles in the garage or gang affiliations by any household member or relative of a house member. That would focus on the pertinent dangers better than the "Is-there-a-gun" red herring.

    June 21, 2011 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. ReconBn

    I am a former Marine and Military Policeman. I don't have any professional or personal acquaintances who leave weapons laying out for access by anyone, much less children. Using this as an excuse to ask about someone's personal property–and finding out children are being asked if their parents own guns–is akin to Hitler having children turn in their parents for whatever reason the nationalist-socialist regime dictated. This is not acceptable no matter the reasoning is flawed by naivety or design.

    June 21, 2011 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • toddflanders

      You are a complete moron and your attempt at an analogy proves it. Part of the doctor's anticipatory guidance covers a variety of safety questions in the home. Asking if they own a gun is perfectly appropriate so people can be reminded as to proper safety techniques. Some of you idiots are so paranoid about keeping your precious firearms that you can't understand common sense.

      June 21, 2011 at 21:26 | Report abuse |
  14. Chris

    What's the best way to keep a child from drowning? Teach them to swim...same goes for guns!

    June 21, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Rob

    Again, misleading statistics thrown out in an article in an attempt to portray gun owners as irresponsible and hostile. We own guns, we keep them locked up, and we teach our children that guns a re a tool to be handled with respect. The leading cause of death 1-21 is motor vehicles, and alcohol related accidents is a major reason for that.
    CNN should be more cautious in allowing their commentators to just spew bad information. It is misleading, it is harmful to the public because it's bad information, and CNN just loses more viewers when they allow such poor and un-researched commentary to appear in CNN's name.

    June 21, 2011 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. MissyK

    I grew up with guns, hunting and self-defense. Never even dreamed of playing with one. I knew where they were kept and when I was old enough I learned to handle, load, shoot, ect. handguns and rifles and shotguns and use archery equipment. My kids are getting the same education. And I have guns in the house, always have had them. Most serious injuryb incurredn by one of my toddlers? running down the hall tripped and split his forehead open hitting it on the corner of the living room door. Guns are inherently dangerous, stupid people owning and/or handling them is dangerous.

    June 21, 2011 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Pedro

    That's an interesting assertion but according to the CDC the leading cause of death in those age groups is "unintentional injury". Perhaps the fine Dr would like to return her MD due to complete incompetence.

    June 21, 2011 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Ahmed

    Dr. Shu's disingenuity here is astounding! Her statistics alone are shameless distortions. "40% of children under 18"? Correct me if I'm wrong, anyone 18 or older is not a child. So 40% of "all" children live in a home with a firearm. Yet, the "leading cause of death" she lists between 1-21 years of age. Why include adults between the ages of 18-21 in this statistic? I'm willing to bet firearms are indeed the leading cause of death among "adults" between the ages of 18-21, thus driving up the mortality rate and making her manipulated statement true. Shameful!

    June 21, 2011 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Vince

    I find it interesting that she wants to know about guns that are unloaded and locked and out of reach of children when it is the loaded, not locked and in reach of children guns that would be could be a hazard.

    June 21, 2011 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. riprap

    Talk to your child about drugs before the age of 8. Drugs are a life destroyer. If you wait to explain drugs past a certain age you aren't credible as a parent. Guns are the leading cause of death is nonsense.

    June 21, 2011 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Robert

    "Any child molesters in the house? But he has no gun? Fine then." idiots. My minor daughter is a crack shot. She is no doubt safer and more at home around firearms than the author.

    June 21, 2011 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Steve

    For someone acting as a professional to put out such a poor article is sad and pushing a political agenda.
    I take my family to a doctor for MEDICAL advice, not some liberal agenda!
    If she wants to go through the many other things, per the CDC, that are likely to hurt my child then find. However, since we only have a 15min appt I don't think the doc is going to run down a list of 15 or so things.

    Sad that the American Academy of Pediatrics has been hijacked by a political agenda which hurts the credibility of their members.

    June 21, 2011 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • toddflanders

      Your paranoia knows no bounds. The doctor is merely trying to establish a pattern of safety in the home. It's completely reasonable for the doctor to ask if you have a gun at home to remind you to keep it away from kids. This is just like reminding pet owners not to leave a baby alone with their pet. THIS IS COMMON SENSE PEOPLE. Plus, the docs have a right to free speech.

      June 21, 2011 at 21:30 | Report abuse |
    • Odin

      toddflanders,
      |
      This is not a free speech issue. It is a right to privacy issue. If doctors had simply asked and given some constructive advice, things would have been fine,. But instead, doctors were harassing and discriminating. That crosses the ethical boundries.

      June 21, 2011 at 21:39 | Report abuse |
    • Percysmama

      It no longer is a privacy issue if your kid is in the house. I think a parent has a right to know if you have a gun and that it is properly locked away.

      June 21, 2011 at 22:35 | Report abuse |
    • Odin

      It most certainly is still a privacy issue when a doctor asks. If a parent asks, that is a different story. And if they ask me, they will get an education in firearm safety they will probably never forget. Every parent who ever asked me walked away knowing more than when they walked in and completely trusting their child in my house.

      June 21, 2011 at 22:45 | Report abuse |
  23. Justin

    It's unfortunate journalism has come down to this. As an legal owner of multiple weapons (from knives up to rifles), I'm disgusted by the lack of journalistic integrity almost as much as I am of the current partisanship in this country.

    The leading cause of death of ages <1 – 24 via the CDC for the latest reporting year of 2007 is "Unintentional Injuries". This includes Firearm incidents, however not ONCE does it go above 2.1% of the total deaths. The majority? Drowning, Traffic, Fires, and Poisoning.

    Any further search of Google shows even more statistics regarding leading causes of death for all age ranges, and most of the time, firearm injuries/deaths INCLUDE police shootings, self defense shootings, gang warfare, and the entire range of use of a weapon – which definitely destroys the use of that statistic on any report such as this.

    CNN needs to get with the program and start filtering garbage opinion based articles such as this. Good idea in parents asking parents out of safety, but an article that destroys the ability to reach that idea based on ridiculous and unsubstantiated remarks.

    June 21, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Hastur

    "Further, firearm injuries are the leading cause of death between 1 and 21 years of age."

    That statement, is in fact, an outright bald faced lie. The leading cause of death was, and is still, motor vehicle accidents, accounting for over 30% of all fatalities among children and young adults. That is a published fact from the CDC. Accidental firearms deaths that the author is claiming as a risk are less the 1% of all deaths. Falls and choking are far more likely to be a cause of death. Once again, that's the facts, from the CDC.

    June 21, 2011 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Dave

    Dr Shu wrote, "Further, firearm injuries are the leading cause of death between 1 and 21 years of age."
    .
    WRONG! In 2007, the CDC recorded 4,725 deaths involving firearms for the age group of 0-21 (which, by the way, includes adults who can legally own and even purchase their own firearms, so there is no reason to be including these figures in an article about asking before play dates for children). This pales in comparison to the 8,664 motor vehicle deaths for the same age group. And this is only dealing with injury related deaths, if we include non-injury deaths, firearms barely break into the top ten causes.

    June 21, 2011 at 18:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Dave

    Dr Shu wrote, "The concept of health care professionals asking about guns has garnered a lot of press now that new law in Florida prohibits physicians from counseling patients about gun safety in the home. "
    .
    WRONG! The Florida law does not stop doctors from providing information. It stops them from invading privacy, harassing, and discriminating against people who have firearms and those who refuse to answer the question. This came about because a doctor in Florida verbally abused a mother who refused to answer the doctor's questions about firearms and then the doctor refused to see the woman's child.

    June 21, 2011 at 18:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dessa

      Thank you for providing the context about the FLA law.

      I grew up with guns, loaded, with the safety on around the house BUT also had it drilled into my head that a gun is a weapon, not a toy, and that it should be treated with respect.

      June 21, 2011 at 19:28 | Report abuse |
  27. Dave

    Dr Shu wrote, "The American Academy of Pediatrics and numerous other health advocates steadfastly oppose such legislation. For more information, a commentary from AAP President Dr. Marion Burton, can be found here: http://www.aap.org/president."
    .
    .
    THE REST OF THE STORY: The AAP is its own worst enemy on this subject as it primarily advocates completely getting rid of firearms and only mentions actual safe storage and safety practices in passing. This makes the AAP very anti-gun and the doctors who listen to the AAP relay that primary advice and anti-gun stance to parents. And then they act all surprised when they upset a large segment of the population? Geez!

    June 21, 2011 at 18:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Odin

      You are 100% spot on correct, Dave. But like you said, this goes against the AAP party line. One has to wonder how many $$$$ the anti-gun Joyce Foundation donates to their group.

      June 21, 2011 at 20:54 | Report abuse |
  28. Dave

    Of course, since Dr Shu is a spokeswoman for the AAP, it should be little surprise that she repeats the AAP's lies and repeats the party line.
    .
    If Dr Shu really wants to have an honest discussion with me about this and to learn the truth, she can write me at hidden.warrior1(at)gmail.com

    June 21, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. abby

    I was raised in a home with guns, but we had very, very strict rules. Us children knew to never, ever even go near the gun box. We never, ever handled the guns until we were handed one by my father at the pistol range. Sadly, we have some very irresponsible parents who keep loaded guns in the home where anyone can access them. And if you think your child would never touch that gun you are mistaken, hopefully not fatally mistaken.....

    June 21, 2011 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Dr. Jennifer Shu

    Thank you all for your comments. I am trying to add a correction to this piece, but many of you are correct in that I inadvertently left out the word "second" in that firearms are the second leading cause of death in ages 1 to 21 years and motor vehicles are first. My point for this piece is to ask about things that are important to you (appropriate car seats if someone else is driving your child for example). Guns may not be a concern for you but perhaps there is something else that is. Thanks for the discussion!

    June 21, 2011 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Dave

    Dr Shu,
    Firearms are second in INJURY DEATHS, not all deaths, so make that change too. And change the age group to 0-17 if you really want to be correct. And if you want to learn about better advice than the AAP's stance of "get rid of the guns", contact me at the email I gave above.

    June 21, 2011 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Dave

    Dr Shu,
    Firearms are second in INJURY DEATHS, not all deaths, so make that change too. And change the age group to 0-17 if you really want to be correct. And if you want to learn about better advice than the AAP's stance of "get rid of the guns", contact me at the email I gave above.

    P.S. You should also correct your information about the Florida law.

    June 21, 2011 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Devo

    Guns don't kill children, politically correct school districts that refuse to allow pro gun groups in to teach them about gun safety, kill kids. Along with parents who fail to educate their children, growing up in a gunless household.

    No child needs to fear a gun, as long as they understand it.

    Education, about firearms, and keeping the media, and groups like you are part of from repeatedly quoting bad statistics, and falsehoods about firearms in general, can also go a long way in helping educate children as to the truth of what they are dealing with.

    Keeping Hollywood from glorifying guns and criminals would be a good place to start as well.

    June 21, 2011 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. qanerd

    If a parent of my child's friend asks, they will get an honest answer that they are locked up. They are the only ones with a right to ask. The first doctor who asks me if I have a firearm in the house will become my ex-doctor immediately.

    June 21, 2011 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • toddflanders

      Very smart to try and punish someone who only has your child's best interest at heart. Too bad the physician patient relationship is not a one way street.

      June 21, 2011 at 21:33 | Report abuse |
  35. UncleJohn

    Swimming pools kill around 1 kid 14,000. Guns kill around 1 kid in 1,000,000 (Freakonomics)

    June 21, 2011 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Joe Schmoster

    Stop the fear mongering and lying Dr. Shu. I challenge you to do real reporting and provide real statistics to back your claims. Remove gang related homicides and CHILDREN 18-21. Last time I looked, an 18 year old is considered an ADULT.

    Here is some real data from 1999. Firearms related accidental deaths is 1%. A distant 8th down there with Airplane Accidents. 51% of Child Death Accidents involve cars. Let's ban cars. I would argue that children of parents like you are the reason for 90% of those accidental firearm deaths. Your fear mongering only piques the interest of kids where children of gun owners learn to respect them and not touch them.

    Child Deaths by Accident U.S. Census Bureau 1999
    Type Deaths Percentage
    Motor vehicle-traffic 43,649 50%
    Falls 14,986 17%
    Poisoning 9,510 11%
    Fires and flames 3,741 4%
    Drowning 3,488 4%
    Ingestion of objects 3,206 4%
    Medical Complications 2,929 3%
    Firearms 1,134 1%
    Motor vehicle, nontraffic 1,127 1%
    Air Transport 1,061 1%
    Water Transport 675 1%
    Railway 565 1%
    Electricity 482 1%

    June 21, 2011 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wesley

      Firearms are right there under medical complications. I read that as a doctor is 2.5 times more likely to kill my child than a gun.

      June 21, 2011 at 21:03 | Report abuse |
  37. Notarichboy

    Guns are not the problem, it's parents not teaching their kids about guns thats the problam. I grew up, as did many of my friends, with loaded guns in plain view and within reach, hanging on the wall in a gun rack or in a cabinet. None of use ever shot anyone or even thought about it!

    June 21, 2011 at 20:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RagingSemi

    Your parenting skills are definitely on par with the information you give people. CNN should post a written apology for this article as well as let you know your opinion is no longer needed.

    June 21, 2011 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Scott

      Agreed, I demand a written apology, the lack of proper parenting and gun safety instruction are the main cause of gun deaths! This is a very poorly written article and stinks of rhetoric and anti gun propaganda towards the anti second amendment radical views!

      June 21, 2011 at 21:44 | Report abuse |
  39. Odin

    Dr. Shu,
    |
    Your are still wrong.
    |
    Since the CDC's NVSS NVRS breaks things down by Under 1 year, 1-4 years, 5-14 years, and 14-24 years, lets use 0 thru 14 years for death data.
    |
    In 2007, there were 382 deaths involving firearms (not counting legal interventions), roughly the same as the 367 deaths due to pneumonia.
    |
    In that same year, there were:
    |
    435 deaths due to Septicemia.
    |
    441 Leukemia deaths
    |
    450 deaths due to accidental fire/smoke
    |
    739 drownings
    |
    954 deaths to cancer (excluding Leukemia)
    |
    1139 deaths due to cardiovascular disease
    |
    1960 motor vehicle accident deaths
    |
    Source: Table 10, National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 58, No. 19, May 20, 2010
    |
    As pointed out by others, there is no reason to use the stats for up to age 21 as a supporting argument for an under 17 issue. 18-21 year olds can live in their own homes, own and even purchase firearms, and are responsible for their own actions. Including them in your argument reeks of dishonesty.

    June 21, 2011 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Andrew

    See: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/Unintentional_2007-a.pdf

    "Unintentional Firearm" is at most #9 (not #1 or #2). For the purposes of this article, "Homicide Firearm" is not relevant. Not for the ages where mothers and fathers are discussing if little Johnny can come and play.

    June 21, 2011 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Odin

    Maybe, just maybe, Dr Shu will read all the rest of the comments here and realize that she has been sold a false bill of goods by the AAP and that firearm owners are a heck of a lot more intelligent than she assumed and no more about firearm safety around kids than the AAP and pediatricians do.
    |
    I go to a mechanic to get my car worked on, not to learn about IT security. I go to an IT specialist to find out about home network security, not to get a medical advice. And I go to a doctor to get medical advice, not a firearms lecture.

    June 21, 2011 at 21:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. David

    Dr. Shu,

    The NRA opposes mandatory gun locks in the home, and it is allowed to prevent any such legislation because parents in this country love their guns more than their children. Your article is articulate and well written, but all the facts in the world will never overcome blind faith. And gun ownership is the new religion.

    June 21, 2011 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Odin

      The NRA supports securing firearms and strongly advocates it. It is just against making it mandatory since it is only enforcable after the fact and parents can already be held responsible under child endangerment and neglect laws.

      June 21, 2011 at 22:39 | Report abuse |
    • Percysmama

      You can see the religious aspects of it by the responses here. Good point.

      June 21, 2011 at 22:43 | Report abuse |
  43. Percysmama

    Wow there are a lot of scary gun owners out there. I can not believe not one of you understand this woman's concern. Most of you want to know driving records. My kids do not drive with parents I do not know well or babysitters who have not proven they are responcible. I do not want my child being the one who is shot by the kid who is showing off his/ her parents gun. Want to know it is locked up safe. Get over it I do not want a gun and my chances of being shot are lower, because I do not own a gun. So statistics that.

    June 21, 2011 at 22:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Odin

      The fact that we actually know the stats and that 21 year olds are not children scares you? We know her concern. We also know it is not as great as she makes it out to be. And we known that she is a mouthpiece for the AAP, who has taken some very anti-gun stances, some of which have led to doctors harassing and discriminating against patients.

      June 21, 2011 at 22:50 | Report abuse |
  44. Fritz Hohenheim

    When I was a kid, parents would send me off to play i the streets. I guess these days that wouldn't be possible without getting a written affidavit from a city officials that A) there are no potholes with A1) sharp edge sor that A2) could make a pickup truck bump and loose a piece of dangerous load that could lead to injuries or choking hazard and that B) there are no carcinogens in the asphalt.
    The land of the brave is loosing it, step by step....

    June 21, 2011 at 22:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Odin

    Three simple steps to safely having firearms in a home with kids:
    1- Educate: teach the youngest kids to not touch. Teach middle aged kids about firearm safety. Teach older kids about shooting.
    2- Unload: Any firearms not under the immediate control of a responsible person or secured should be unloaded.
    3- Secure: All firearms not under the immediate control of a responsible person should be secured.
    .
    The AAP's primary recommendation of removing the firearms is completely unnecessary.

    June 21, 2011 at 22:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Percysmama

      There was a story of a kindergartener this spring who brought a gun to school and shot 2 of his classmates. This is not a statistic it is an event that took place. You maybe a responsible gun owner, but all of them are not. A parent has a right to know if there is a gun in the house, if for no other reason to teach them gun safety, because we do not have one and never will. Enough with the 21 year old thing. There are plenty of stories of young kids every year shooting themselves or some other kid.

      June 21, 2011 at 23:05 | Report abuse |
    • Odin

      You are correct, it is not a statistic. It is an anecdote. Anecdotes do not prove stats.
      A PARENT can ask. I have never said they cannot. What I have said is that DOCTORS who have asked have invaded patients privacy and harassed and discriminated against patients who refused to answer or said they did have firearms.
      You show me a 21 year old who was charged as a juvenile, and I'll drop the issue.
      Kids being accidentally shot and killed are rare, about 112 in 2007. It is even more rare for a kid to accidentally shoot and kill a kid. That involves up through age 17.

      June 21, 2011 at 23:17 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Excellent post, Odin.

      June 22, 2011 at 11:27 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Excellent post, Odin

      June 22, 2011 at 11:28 | Report abuse |
  46. Percysmama

    For 2001 it was over 400 kids and if you google it there are pages of articles about kids who were accidentally shot in the home, by themselves or other kids. That is preventable. Not everyone need to own a gun and there are many irresponsible gun owners out there, look at the number of kids shot. You quoted 116 for 2007. That seems like 116 senseless deaths to me.

    June 21, 2011 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Odin

      For 2001 there were 125 children who were accidentally shot and killed, not 400.
      Owning firearms is not about need.
      Most people do not need pools, houses with stairs, or a myriad of other things which are involved in accidental deaths each year. Do you ask other parents about safe storage of poisons? If they have smoke alarms, CO detectors and fire extinguishers? Probably not, yet these things accidentally kill kids every year.

      June 21, 2011 at 23:30 | Report abuse |
  47. lanren's night

    What a bunch of self righteous gun owners, It is choice to own a gun, so not everyone chooses to. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make sure your child will not be exposed to a gun at a friends house. There are many responsible parents who have guns in the house, and then there are many who are not responsible. Asking just helps a parent to make an informed decision. I too grew up in a home with guns, but have chosen not to have them in my home, and I always ask, not to judge but to see if I feel the parent is responsible and I feel comfortable leaving my child with them..

    June 21, 2011 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Odin

      No one is forcing you to own a firearm. The AAP is advising people to get rid of firearms. See the difference?
      If a parent wants to ask about firearms, that is fine. Doctors, that opens up other issues. You appear to be confusing the two.

      June 21, 2011 at 23:32 | Report abuse |
  48. Bob Brown

    While I am sure Dr. Shu can cite a source for her statistics, stats from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide numbers much different from those given here. For 2007, the latest year available on line, and looking at the "Unintentional injury" category (we're talking play dates, right?) the stats look like this:

    Ages 1-4: the primary causes of death are MV Traffic, Fire/Burn, and Drowning. Death by firearm is tenth at 1.1%.

    For ages 5-9, prime play date age, MV Traffic accounts for almost half of deaths at 47.3%, followed by Drowning and Suffocation. Death by firearm is seventh at 2.1%.

    For ages 10-14 automobiles are killers. MV Traffic is first again, and accounts for over half of all deaths at 56.6% followed by drowning, other land transport, fire/burn, poisoning and suffocation. Death by firearm is 7th at 2.1%.

    For teenagers and young adults, ages 15-24 MV Traffic is up to 64.6%, followed by poisoning, drowning, fall, and fire/burn. Firearms fall to 8th (after "other spec classifiable") at 1.0%.

    Do things approach Dr. Shu's statistics if we include murder? Nope. For the 10-14 age group cancer causes more deaths (479) than murder by firearm at 154.

    In the 15-24 group, teens and young adults, murder by firearm is significant with 4,669, after accidental death by motor vehicle, with almost twice as many deaths, 10,272.

    In that 15-24 age group, and if you include homicides, Dr. Shu is right. Since 15-24 has the highest death rate among young people, homicide by firearm may be the second leading cause of death overall. If so, the statistics are very misleading. For kids of play date age, worry about cars and drowning.

    You can find the numbers yourself at the CDC web site.

    June 22, 2011 at 00:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob Brown

      Sorry, I meant to write that motor vehicles cause MORE THAN twice as many deaths as murder by firearm in the 15-24 age range.

      June 22, 2011 at 00:56 | Report abuse |
  49. Bob Brown

    And, if you *really* want to know how safe your child is, ask, "will you use your cell phone while my child is in your car?" If the answer is yes, your kid needs a better class of friends.

    June 22, 2011 at 00:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RagingSemi

    Seriously, Im in agreement with others on here. Im way more concerned with any of my friends houses being childproofed, as mine is, over them owning guns, as I do, and keep locked away. Kitchen? Locked down like a supermax. Bathrooms? Same. Outlets and wiring? Untouchable. Doors? Most adults have trouble getting out. Those are things you need to look for and care about. Guns are pretty low on the list.

    June 22, 2011 at 01:14 | Report abuse | Reply
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