Thursday, February 28, 2008

Gun Test Shocks - recent media appearance

Gun Test Shocks Parents

What would your child do if he or she found a gun during playtime? Newschannel 5 and its sister station in Kansas City, KSHB, wanted to find out.
A group of parents agreed to be part of a social experiment, watching their kids from behind one-way glass to see how their children behaved when they found a real gun planted in a toy box.

Before the test began, police helped make sure the gun was completely safe. Captain Rich Lockhart provided his semiautomatic weapon for the test. It's a type of gun many kids see on TV. To make sure it's safe, Lockhart removed the magazine, checked the chamber, and removed the firing pin. Then he put the gun inside a bin of toys.

The first group of children ranged in age from 2 to 11. As they were led into the room with the one-way glass, the parents were hopeful that their kids would do the right thing, and report the gun to an adult as soon as they saw it.

The kids dumped the toy bin to get to the toys. That's when an 8-year-ld boy found the gun buried inside. Next, he pointed the gun at a smaller boy and pulled the trigger. Then another boy joined in, wrestling the gun from the 8-year-old and swinging it around the room. Lockhart said, if the gun had been loaded, any of those kids could have been injured or even killed. One father said tearfully, "As soon as he pointed it at his head, my heart stopped."

In the next test round, parents watched seven more children, this time between the ages of 4 and 12. One of the kids is a 12-year-old Boy Scout whose parents said they hoped he'd do the right thing. Again, it took only moments for one of the older boys to find the gun. He pointed it around the room and tried to shoot it. When the Boy Scout noticed what was going on, he asked the other boy if he could see the gun. Once again, none of the children notified an adult. At the end of both tests, Lockhart held a serious conversation with the children about gun safety.
Experts say having that conversation could save lots of young lives. Last year , 20 kids came to Rainbow Babies and Childrens' Hospital for injuries from a fire arm. In Cuyahoga County last yearm, 16 kids died from gunshots.

Dr. Nabil El-Ghoroury, pediatric psychologist at Metrohealth Medical Center, said, "For all kids, they need to be repeated conversations. One conversation is not going to be enough to get that message through to them that it's important to stay away from guns." El-Ghoroury said there are plenty of opportunites for parents to talk to children about guns. El-Ghoroury said, "Popular movies like Transformers or The Incredibles had guns. When you're watching it, you could pause it and say, 'What do you think about that?' And that's the entry point to talk about that."