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:
- 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.
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.
Thank you for speaking out on this vital issue. 35 years ago our
babysitting coop began asking about guns and their storage within our community...no one was offended because our children were important