Potential Trouble Spots
Weapons in the home
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, nine out of ten murders involve a weapon, and eight out of ten involve a firearm. Most robberies involve the use of a weapon, most frequently, a handgun. One out of seven teens have reported carrying a weapon such as a bat, club, gun or knife at some time to protect themselves. Weapons can make violence more deadly & less personal. A gun in the home increases the likelihood of homicide by three times, and the likelihood of suicide by five times.
Reduce the risk
- Think long & 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 it is to stop a crime.
- Look at other ways to protect yourself & your home. Invest in top grade locks, jamming devices for doors & windows, a dog, or an alarm system. Start or join a Neighborhood Watch. Check with your local Police Dept., about a self defense course.
- If you choose to own a firearm, make sure that they are stored safely. That means unloaded, trigger locked, and in a locked gun case or pistol box, with the ammunition stored separately. Store the keys out of reach of children, away from weapons & ammunition. Check frequently to be sure the storage remains secure.
- Obtain training from a certified instructor in firearms for everyone in the family. 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, Do Not Touch, Get Away, and Tell a Trusted Adult. CALL THE POLICE DEPT. AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
- Show children how to settle arguments or solve problems without using word or actions that hurt others. Set the example by the way you handle conflicts in the family, at work, and in the neighborhood. Do not forget that common courtesies like please, thank you, and excuse me help ease tensions that can lead to violence.
- Discourage name calling & teasing. These can easily get out of hand, moving quickly from just words to fists, knives & firearms.. Teach children that bullying is wrong & take their fears about bullies seriously.
- Take a hard look at what your family watches & listens to for entertainment, from action movies & cop shows to video games and music lyrics. How do the characters solve problems? Do they make firearms & other violence appear exciting, funny or glamorous? Are the real life consequences of violence for victim & family clear? Talk about what each of you liked & didn’t like.
- Stick with friends & family who steer clear of violence & drugs. Encourage your children to do the same. Research shows that the use of alcohol & other drugs is closely linked with violence, including the use of guns & other weapons.
- Be sure you know where & how to report potentially violent situations or concerns about conditions in the neighborhood that could lead to violence. Ask your local Police Dept. for help identifying what to report, when, to whom, and how.
- Consider organizing an event that lets people turn in weapons, or other objects that might be mistaken for real weapons.
- Support school & youth clubs in their efforts to keep weapons from menacing the everyday lives of children & teens. Encourage children to report any weapons they know about in or near school to staff or the Police.
- Look around to what happens to young people after school hours. Are there supervised programs for younger children? Are there opportunities for teens & preteens to work with children with homework, learn art or music, sports or computers? In some areas there after school programs for children.
- Start a discussion of neighborhood views on weapons in the home, children playing with toy weapons, children & violent entertainment, and how arguments should be settled. A PTA - PTO meeting and a Neighborhood Watch could provide the opportunity.
- Learn your state & local laws on firearms. These laws should be enforced vigorously & fairly. Support you local Police, prosecutors, judges, and other local officials who enforce laws designed to prevent weapon violence.