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Study: household guns linked to increased risk of danger

By Leah Linscheid, llinscheid@wkbt.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:34:52 PM CST
Updated On: Oct 29 2013 05:08:47 PM CDT
Gun safety in the home
LA CROSSE, WI (WKBT) -

A new study has linked households guns to an increased risk of gunshot wounds to kids.

A report by the American Academy of Pediatrics found an association between the percentage of homes with guns and the number of child gunshot wounds. Injuries sustained from handguns were most prevalent.

La Crosse hasn't seen the kind of tragedy that happened just this past summer in Jackson County, when a 4-year-old girl was shot in the head by her 6-year-old brother.

"In regards to youth or younger aged people, we've been very fortunate in the city of La Crosse, and we have none to our recollection," said Sgt. Randy Rank of the La Crosse Police Department.

The Jackson County girl suffered non-life-threatening injuries in that incident, but across the nation, 7,500 are admitted yearly to the hospital for gun shot wounds. 500 of them die there.

The study suggested reducing the number of guns in the house could reduce the number of child gunshot injuries. But there are other options to make sure your home is safe.

"If guns cannot be removed from the home, certainly they should be locked up away from the reach of children, they should be locked up unloaded, and the ammunitiion should be locked up separately from the guns themselves," said Casandra Grube, pediatrician at Gundersen Health Systems.

According to Grube, the youngest children aren't necessarily the most at risk. Kids ages 10-19 are most likely to suffer from a gunshot wound. That statistic also factors in teen suicides.

Education can help. The La Crosse Police Department teaches a gun safety curriculum to elementary kids as part of its DARE program every year, and the DNR also offers a range of gun classes to older children and adults.

"Show kids guns, but to educate them that they do not touch them," Grube said. "They should know the difference between a toy gun and a real gun."

But according to Grube and other pediatricians, your best bet to keep your kids safe is to keep your guns out of reach.

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