How We Can Help Protect our Kids with a Simple Question

June 19, 2015
Your calendar on June 21 is probably marked for a few things: it’s Father’s Day, the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. Yet this year, we’re marking our calendars for something perhaps just as important: National ASK Day. ASK, or “Asking Saves Kids,” is a campaign to keep children safe from accidental gun violence by empowering parents to ask if there is an unlocked gun in the homes where their kids play. In the United States, one out of three homes with children has a gun, and nearly 1.7 million children live in a home with a loaded, unlocked gun. We know that a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense. Every year thousands of kids are killed and injured as a result. Across the United States, gun violence is the second-leading cause of death for children and teens. Gun violence is a public health problem, and we should treat protecting our kids from gun violence like we treat protecting our kids from several other threats to their health. As Lauren Paige Kennedy explains, comparing the risk her kid faces from a peanut allergy to the risk of gun violence, “But here comes my big confession: I’m not so great at voicing my concerns about every risk. Not even when it comes to a threat that is every bit as dangerous for my daughter as her food allergy — a threat that’s also dangerous for my older daughter and your kids, too. The words I want to ask are right there on the tip of my tongue: Are there any guns in your home? Are they all unloaded and safely stored? And yet it feels so hard to get those words out.” The ASK campaign, created in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics, has collaborated with over 400 grassroots organizations to inspire an estimated 19 million households to ask if there are guns where their children play, and if those guns are unlocked. The Talmud teaches that “he who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe” (Mishnah Sandhedrin 4:5). Surely, we should do our best to save the lives of our children. On June 21, the ASK campaign will be hosting a series of safe playdates at five cities, and showcasing other playdates across the country. You can pledge to ask if there are unlocked guns in houses your children visit using this tool, and see if there are events in your city on National ASK Day. To learn more about the issue of gun violence, check out RACblog and the RAC issue page on gun violence prevention.

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