As the holiday season approaches, and homes begin to fill with family and friends from near and far, it’s important to be mindful and take precautions to keep your home safe. With 8 children and teens injured or killed each day as a result of Family Fire, a shooting involving an improperly stored or misused gun, it’s critical to remember and practice safe storage practices. Below are some tips for preparing your home this holiday season which can help put an end to Family Fire.
Always practice safe storage, especially with guests in town.
Always store guns securely and out of children’s reach. From gun locks to safes, there’s a range of effective solutions best suited for both gun and home. Since holidays tend to bring more children into the home, consider storing your ammunition separately from the gun, which can reduce the risk of family fire by up to 61%. Don’t be afraid to remind your loved ones to practice safe storage as well.
Remember, holidays aren’t easy for everyone. Some loved ones may be struggling.
Holidays can bring abundant cheer, but can also be a difficult time for those suffering from a recent loss, depression or other mental health issues. If you feel a family member may pose a danger to themselves or others, consider removing guns from the home and storing them safely off premise.
Conversations around gun safety can often take a political and divisive turn, but they don’t have to! Here are some tips on how to best navigate this type of conversation:
- Establish common ground: both gun owners and non-gun owners can be gun violence prevention supporters and agree that safe storage is a critical aspect of responsible gun ownership. Consider beginning the conversation by asking your loved ones if they are firearm owners, and if so, what safe storage methods they practice.
- Practice active listening: in order to have an effective conversation, you’ll need to practice active listening. While someone else is speaking, try to not focus on preparing your next response, but instead concentrate on what the other person is saying so you can better understand their point of view. Use active listening techniques such as making eye contact with the speaker, paraphrasing what they’ve said and asking follow up questions. These techniques let the other person know that you are fully engaged in the conversation and committed to hearing their opinion.
- Be inclusive of others: try to not let a few select people dominate the conversation. Be inclusive and let each person present have a chance to weigh in on the subject.
- Avoid getting angry: difficult conversations can often times become very emotional. Avoid derailing the conversation by making accusations or judgments of others, and instead remain empathetic and open-minded. If you do get upset, acknowledge your feelings to the group and explain why you feel as you do.
- Know when to wrap it up: if tensions start to rise, or interest in the topic begins to wane, it’s time to wrap things up. Try to end the conversation on a positive note by summarizing the common ground you’ve achieved and what positive actions can be taken next.
Continue the conversation after the holidays and talk with your community about the importance of gun safety.
Having regular conversations about gun safety with those close to you reduces the chance of family fire incidents. If you’re a gun owner, help put an end to family fire by educating friends, family, and members of your community on responsible gun ownership. Visit https://endfamilyfire.org/ to learn how you can help put an end to Family Fire.
Post by: Meagan Hutcheon, Social Change Program Manager, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence