Fort Worth, Texas,
14:46 PM

Cook Children’s ER Doctor Urges Gun Safety after 5 Kids Shot, 1 Killed on Sunday

In only one day, five children were shot, one fatally, in incidents throughout Tarrant County on Sunday. All the children were treated at Cook Children’s.

Dan Guzman, M.D., 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 Dr. 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,” Dr. 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 3 cause of death among children in the United States.

Dr. 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,” Dr. 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, Dr. Guzman offers these safety tips to follow:

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

Dr. Guzman stressed that children are curious and impulsive which can be deadly when paired with a firearm. Storing a loaded firearm under the mattress, in a bedside table or a closet is placing your family at risk, Dr. Guzman added.

The most secure place for your 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 your child.

“It’s important to assess and evaluate your home injury risk and find ways to reduce the hazards in your home whether it is related to firearms, water safety, poisonings or any other safety risks,” Dr. Guzman said. “Discussing with your children the importance of what to do when they encounter a firearm can help to reduce unintentional injury in your home.

Steps Gun Owners Can Take to Protect Kids

As a gun owner himself, Dr. Guzman asks you to take the same steps he does to protect children:

  • Store firearms unloaded and in locked locations, out of reach of children.
  • Use cable locks and gun boxes.
  • Secure ammunition separately.
  • Hide gun safe and cable lock keys.
  • Keep unlocked guns in your possession.
  • Make sure all guns are equipped with effective, child-resistant gun locks.
  • If a visitor has a gun in a backpack, briefcase, handbag, or unlocked car, provide them with a locked place to keep it while they are in your home.
Aim For Safety

Cook Children’s is looking for parents of children ages 4-12 years old to participate in a gun safety research project. 

The study takes place on the Cook Children's main campus in Fort Worth, Texas, and participants must be willing to attend the onsite sessions.

  • Participating in the study is completely FREE.
  • Study includes one visit to Cook Children’s Medical Center and two follow-up phone calls.
  • Parents will receive information on how they can obtain free firearm safety devices.

This project is being conducted by Dan Guzman, M.D., a Cook Children’s Emergency Department physician.

If you are interested in participating, please submit a short survey by clicking here

Click here to learn more about the program.

Comments 1 - 9 (9)
Thank you for your message. It will be posted after approval.
Kathryn Lindsay
As. Retired OR nurse, I support your recommendations 100%!
Thank you for speaking out on this vital issue. 35 years ago our
babysitting coop began asking about guns and their storage within our one was offended because our children were important
to us.
Curtis Wilson
The message couldn't have come from a more qualified emergency care doctor. More qualified to speak and educate on this subject than anyone I know.
Olga Richter
Nothing political about this article. Regardless of how the shootings took place this is an excellent article about prevention.
Chris Lanman
These were “accidental” shootings, mostly by siblings. Here is a news report. Nothing misleading or political in Dr. Guzman’s appeal to parents. Just common sense.
Alan Hanes
Thank you, Dr. Guzman.
I agree with everything in the teach section except run away. If kid sees a gun somewhere, where exactly are they going to run away to? Do they even need to run away in every situation? Perhaps they see a gun in a situation where it poses no danger to them but then they, being little kids, take "run away" literally and run out of a house and into a street. Encouraging a panic response just seems dangerous to me. I taught my daughter about gun safety, including having her memorize the four rules of safe handling, starting when she turned three. We had conversations about what to do if she found one unattended or if another kid had or was touching one when he wasn't supposed to and I always stressed to stay calm and don't cause alarm because that could lead to accidents.
Bammie Cooper
I like your article. It would stop a lot af accidents if parens would read it and put it in practice. Thank you for taking your time to print it. This is the kind of information that needs to be presented at parent teacher associations.
Barbara williamson
Very well written and lots of good advice to keep the children safe and alive. Thanks for posting.
Brent McCain
The article is misleading. Nowhere in it does it say how they were shot. Was it from the children finding the gun or was it from some thugs that were shooting and the children were caught in the crossfire. Is it tragic that 5 children where shot with one being a fatality on a Sunday, YES, it is!! With the recent garbage that Walmart and other company CEO's have been spouting off about wanting gun control, it makes me wonder if Cook Children's Hospital is joining in the political game.