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Gun Safety and Kids

Ask one simple question before sending your kids to play at a friend's home

(HealthDay) -- Are you worried that your kids might go to someone's home and encounter a gun?

Stop worrying and start asking, says an article from the Detroit Free Press. A group called Pax, a New York-based organization that offers solutions to gun violence, calls the program "ASK" -- Asking Saves Kids. Its goal is to get parents to ask other parents whether there is a gun in any home where the children play.

The idea is not to judge people who own guns, but to focus on children's safety. The ASK Web site says the back-to-school season is a particularly important time to do this, because children often make new friends at the start of a new school year. More than 40 percent of homes have guns, the organization says.

If you ask parents if they have a gun and they say "no," you're all set. If they say "yes," you need to ask some more questions. If the gun is stored unloaded and locked in a gun case, with the ammunition stored separately, it might be safe. Still, you'd have to make a decision about whether to let your children play there. If the parents say their home is safe because the gun is hidden, you might want to consider inviting their child to come play at your house instead.

The ASK Web site suggests you ask other questions as well, such as whether the parents always use seatbelts, whether there are any aggressive animals in the house and, if your child is allergic, whether he or she will be exposed to anything that will make them sick. The key is to present your concerns in a way that is respectful and to avoid confrontation, the Web site says.

To find out why one major gun manufacturer agreed to a landmark gun-safety settlement, you can read this article from CNN. To find out more about the gun-control debate, you can read this from Americans for Gun Safety.

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