When we talk about
violence, we can't ignore weapons. Nine out of ten murders involve
a weapon - seven of ten involve a firearm. Most robberies involve
the use of a weapon, most frequently a handgun.
One in seven teens has
reported carrying a weapon - like a bat, club, gun, or knife - at some
time to protect themselves. Weapons make Violence more deadly and
less personal. A gun in the home increases the likelihood of
homicide three times and the likelihood of suicide five times.
REDUCE THE RISK
Think long and hard
about having weapons, especially firearms, in your home. Studies
show that a firearm in the home is more than forty times as likely to
hurt or kill a family member as to stop a crime.
Look at other ways to
protect yourself and your home. Invest in top-grade locks,
jamming devices for doors and windows, a dog, or an alarm system.
Start or join a Neighborhood Watch. Check with local Park,
Recreation Centers and the YMCA/YWCA about a self-defense class.
If you do choose to own
firearms - handguns, rifles, or shotguns - make sure they are safely
stored. That means unloaded, trigger-locked, and in a locked gun
case or pistol box, with ammunition separately locked. Store
keys out of reach of children, away from weapons and ammunition.
Check frequently to make sure this storage remains secure.
Obtain training from a
certified instructor in firearms safety for everyone in the home.
Make sure it's kept current.
Teach your children what
to do if they find a firearm or something that might be a weapon-Stop,
Don't Touch, Get Away, and Tell a Trusted Adult.
Show children how to
settle arguments or solve problems without using words or actions that
hurt others. Set the example by the way you handle everyday
conflicts in the family, at work, and in the neighborhood. Don't
forget that common courtesies like "please," "thank you, " and "excuse
me" help ease the tensions that can lead to violence.
and teasing. This can easily get out of hand, moving all too
quickly to the use of fists, knives, and even firearms. Teach
children that bullying is wrong and take their fears about bullies
Take a hard look at what
you, your family, and your friends watch and listen to for
entertainment - from action movies and cop shows to video games and
music lyrics. How do the characters solve problems? Do
they make firearms and other violence appear exciting, funny, or
glamorous? Are the real-life consequences of violence for
victims and families clear? Talk about what each of you liked
and didn't like.
Stick with friends and
family who steer clear of violence and drugs. And encourage your
children to do the same. Research shows use of alcohol and other
drugs is closely linked with violence, including the use of guns and
TAKE ACTION IN THE COMMUNITY
Be sure you know where and how to report
potentially violent situations or concerns about conditions in the
neighborhood that could lead to violence. Ask your police
department for help in identifying what to report, when, to whom, and
Consider organizing an event that lets
people turn in weapons, or even objects that might be mistaken for
real weapons, in exchange for books, coupons from local merchants,
toys, or simply the satisfaction of making the community safer.
Support schools and youth clubs in their
efforts to keep guns, knives, and other weapons from menacing the
everyday lives of children and teens. Encourage children to
report any weapons they know about in or near school to school staff
or the police.
Look around to see what happens to young
people after school hours. Are there supervised programs for
younger children? Opportunities for teens and preteens to work with
children, get or give help with homework, tackle neighborhood
problems, or learn art, music, sports, or computer skills? In
many areas, after-school programs are located in schools themselves
and called Safe havens or Beacon Schools.
Start a discussion of neighborhood views
on weapons in the home, children playing with toy weapons, children
and violent entertainment, and how arguments should be settled.
A PTA meeting, an informal social gathering, or a Neighborhood Watch
meeting could provide the opportunity.
Learn your state and local laws on
firearms. Insist that these laws be enforced vigorously but
fairly. Support police, prosecutors, judges, and other local
officers who enforce laws designed to prevent gun violence.