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Cook Children's ER doctor urges gun safety after five kids shot, one killed in a single day

Posted Sept. 18, 2019

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a child's hand reaching for a gun on a shelf
Make sure all guns are equipped with effective, child-resistant gun locks.

In only one day, five children were shot, one fatally, in incidents throughout Tarrant County on Sept. 15.

Dan Guzman, a Cook Children’s emergency physician, called the day gut-wrenching for the victims, their families and the medical staff that took care of the kids, ranging from ages 3 to 14.

Gun awareness and gun safety is a passion for Guzman. He is the medical director of the Aim for Safety program at Cook Children’s, which promotes firearm safety for children. The program is a multi-step interactive experience that provides parental awareness and teaches children the steps they should take when they encounter a firearm.

“I think most people think this ‘won’t happen to us’ because we’ve taught our kids to never touch guns,” Guzman said. “But if you aren’t taking the proper precautions as the adult and parent, it’s probably only a matter of when, not if, your life may be affected by an unintentional discharge involving someone you know, and maybe even your child.”

Firearm-related fatalities are a top-three cause of death among children in the United States.

Guzman said before the weekend, the medical center staff sees about one child per week. Already in 2019, three gunshot wounds treated at the medical center have been fatal.

“Unfortunately, the tragedy of children falling victim to unsecured firearms continues to happen daily,” Guzman said. “These preventable incidents and the pain and suffering they inflict can be reduced by properly securing your firearms.”

As part of the program, Guzman offered these safety tips:

The 3 Ts of firearm safety and children

Talk. This includes your family, neighbors and friends. When your child visits other homes, ask the owners if there are guns in their homes and how they are stored. Guzman said this question is not to be insulting, but to keep your children safe from unsecured firearms.

Teach. Have a conversation with your kids about what to do if they see a gun:

  • Stop.
  • Don’t touch the gun.
  • Run away.
  • Tell someone.

Take. Guzman is asking gun owners to take action and store their firearms properly. And, to take personal responsibility for our children’s safety.

The most secure place for a firearm is in a safe with the ammunition stored separately. Unsecured firearms should always be in your possession. If you are unable to purchase a gun safe, then separating the ammunition from the firearm and using a cable or trigger lock will help reduce the risk of unintentional injury to a child.

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