Fort Worth

Gun Safety Program Puts Children to the Test

Cook Children's Hospital reports 35 children were accidentally shot by other children between January and August of 2019.

The hospital said it highlights the importance of its Aim For Safety program, a 45-minute training session that tests children on gun safety standard protocols.  

Dr. Chad Hamner, Medical Director of Trauma at Cook Children's, put his children through the test last year.  

He and his wife watched from another room as his sons, ages 5, 8 and 11 at the time, were put into a separate room with an unloaded gun hidden inside a box.  

Hamner said he was shocked when his sons found the gun, they handled it and even looked down the barrel.

"As soon as they picked it up and starting looking right down the barrel, I was like, 'Oh my gosh.' Anything that we had talked about just went in one ear and out the other," Hamner said.

The program was developed three years ago by Dr. Daniel Guzman, pediatric emergency medicine physician at Cook Children's, after he said he treated a child who was accidentally shot in the head.

"These are all injuries that are very preventable and we want to be able to bring that to the folks and let them know there are ways to keep your children safe," he said.

Twelve families have done the training and he said 93% of the children didn't do what they were supposed to do, which is to leave the gun alone and find adult.

Half the children picked up the gun.

"Your kid may go to someone else's house. They may go to your grandparents. They may go to a friends house. Kids are kids! They're curious. They play hide and seek. They may go into a closet and find a weapon," he said.

He said he planned to enroll more families interested in taking the free 45-minute course and potentially create a model for his program to share with other hospitals.

The goal is to teach not just children, but their parents that gun safety starts at home.

"Understand even that education one time isn't always going to be enough.  It's an ongoing conversation you need to have and you have take personal responsibility for your kids, as well as kids that come to your house that aren't your kids," Hamner said.

The program emphasizes "three T's" of firearm safety and children:

Talk: Talk to your extended family, neighbors, friends.

Teach: Teach your children about firearm safety. Stop. Don't Touch. Run away. Tell someone.

Take: Take action and store your firearms properly. Take personal responsibility for your children's safety.

To read more about the program, click here.  You can call the hospital for more information about registration.

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