TUESDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- When arranging their child's next play date, American parents may want to ask if there are any unlocked guns in the prospective playmate's home.
The reason: almost 2 million American homes with kids contain unlocked, loaded guns, experts say, and dozens of kids die each year from unintentional shootings.
That's why the Center to Prevent Youth Violence (PAX) has joined forces with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to designate June 21 "National ASK Day."
The goal is to protect children from accidental shooting injuries or even death by encouraging parents to find out whether or not guns are present in homes where their kids play.
"If your child is going to someone else's home to play you're entrusting that other parent to be the provider," noted Dr. Beth Ebel, an AAP spokesperson and a member of the organization's council on injury, violence, and poison prevention. "And just as it's important to go over food rules, allergies, pets, whether the friend's parents are going to be at home or not, it's equally important for a parent to know if there is a gun in a home and if it's safely stored and locked."
Griffin Dix wholeheartedly agrees, with a passion rooted in family tragedy.
"It was May, 1994, and I was living in Berkeley, California," Dix recalls. "And my son one Sunday afternoon went to the home of a good high school friend. And without telling my son, the boy suddenly decided to show off his father's gun, which was kept loaded and unlocked next to the father's bed for protection."
"The boy knew a little bit about guns," Dix noted. "He had actually shot this gun once at the shooting range. So he knew how to take out the loaded ammunition clip, and he put an empty one into the gun, and thought it was then unloaded. But semi-automatic handguns can have a bullet still in the chamber, which the boy didn't
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