To the editor:
It’s not about owning guns. It’s about being responsible for safe gun storage.
On May 15, 2017, four year-old Cole Clark shot and killed himself with a loaded handgun that was left in his reach by his home-based child care provider. On June 6, 2021, a three year-old boy shot and killed himself with a handgun in Halifax, VA, and on August 2, an eight year-old boy in Roanoke, VA unintentionally shot and killed himself in a neighbor's home. We could keep going, but with 369 unintentional shootings by children in the United States in 2020 and at least 272 so far this year, there are too many to list here.
These children were injured or killed for one reason- because firearm owners failed to store their weapons safely and responsibly, inaccessible to children in their care.
Child Care Aware of Virginia implores the public to store firearms locked, unloaded, out of the reach of children, with ammunition stored in a separate, locked location. It is the responsibility of all gun owners to ensure their firearm is never accessible to children.
Never leave children unsupervised in a home or a vehicle where a gun is present. Never assume your child doesn’t know where you store your gun. Make sure the key or safe combination is also hidden and out of reach. Make sure they know to never touch a gun and always tell an adult if they see one.
To learn more, visit Child Care Aware of Virginia at vachildcare.com/safety-resources.