(NBC) – In 2018, there were at least 73 accidental child deaths involving a gun.
Doctors at Cook Children’s ER in Texas say their program “Aim for Safety” provides an eye-opening experience for parents who might think it can’t happen to them.
Dr. Chad Hamner and his wife watch from another room as their three sons ages 11, 8, and 5 at the time are put into a room where there’s with a gun hidden in a bag.
It doesn’t take long for the boys to find the gun and it takes only seconds for them to do exactly what their parents have told them not to do.
They pick it up, and look down the barrel.
“As soon as they picked it up and started looking right down the barrel I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, anything that we had talked about just went in one ear and out the other,’” said Dr. Hamner.
Dr. Hamner, who is the Medical Director of Trauma at Cook Children’s, put his children through the test last year.
His family is one of the 12 who’ve gone through the Aim for Safety program.
Dr. Daniel Guzman created the program after treating a child who was accidentally shot in the head.
“These are all injuries that are very preventable, and we want to be able to bring that to the folks and let them know there are ways to keep your children safe,” he said.
He says just about every child who has taken the training session didn’t do what he or she was supposed to, which is to leave the gun alone and find an adult.
Half of the children picked up the gun.
“Your kid may go to someone else’s house, they may go to your grandparents, they may go to a friend’s house, kids are curious. They play hide and seek. They may go into a closet and find a weapon,” said Dr. Guzman.
He plans to enroll more families interested in taking the free 45-minute course and potentially create a model for his program to share with other hospitals.
The goal is to teach not just children, but their parents, that gun safety starts at home.
“Understand even that education one time isn’t always going to be enough, it’s an ongoing conversation you need to have and you have to take personal responsibility for our kids as well as kids that come to your house that aren’t your kids,” said Dr. Hamner.
The program emphasizes three T’s of firearm safety:
- Talk to your extended family, neighbors, friends
- Teach your children about firearm safety: Stop. Don’t touch. Run away. Tell someone.
- Take action and store your firearms properly, and take personal responsibility for your children’s safety.