Sunday, September 30, 2018

It's always time.

It was the middle of the night when the annoying noise began. Through my bleary eyes I peered into the living room at the source of the sound. It was our fire alarm. Something was making it chirp. I staggered toward the closet for the step ladder so I could reset the alarm. I knew there was no fire. It was that relentless peeping these safety devices make when it's time to change a battery.

Every fall, when we set back clocks to standard time, it's tradition to replace the battery in all smoke alarms. This is a simple, affordable safety practice to increase the likelihood we'll get a reliable, unmistakable alert when a house fire occurs.

Why not take the same approach to firearms safety?  Standard time resumes at 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 2018. Those who own weapons could make sure they're secure to prevent accidental shootings and deaths. In fact, why not double check when we spring forward to daylight savings time in March, too.  And repeat the process every fall and spring.

The esteemed Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, CHOP, has a research institute that has captured alarming safety data. CHOP says there are about 393 million firearms in the U.S. That's about 120 guns for every 100 people. Some 1.7 million kids live in a home with unlocked, loaded weapons. One out of three homes with kids have guns. Here are three eye-opening stats CHOP reports:

An emergency department visit for non-fatal assault injury make a youth 40% more likely for another firearm injury.

Those who die of accidental shootings were more than three times as likely to have a firearm in their homes.

Almost 90% of accidental shooting deaths among children occur in the home. Most of these happen because kids play with guns when parents aren't looking or aren't around.

Annually about 33,000 Americans die due to firearm injuries. Two-thirds of those are suicides. Law enforcement sources estimate about four times as many people, or over 120,000 per year, are injured by guns and survive. I've seen some sources that put accidental injuries at more than 70,000 annually.

Now imagine a gun that chirped when the safety was off or the lock wasn't engaged. Or a gun safe that chimed when security was compromised. Tech companies offer alarm devices you can use to arm any type of safe. And yes, you have to change the batteries.

One of the "wisdom books" in the good book says, "There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

A word to the wise is sufficient. It's time to pay attention to gun safety or it will be a time to mourn.

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