Smith County game warden gives advice for storing firearms around children
SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Firearms can be found in many homes and personal cars around East Texas, and Game Warden Chris Swift spoke on East Texas Now about how those weapons can be handled relatively more safely.
Incidents where children have gained access to guns and shot either themselves or someone else in their home happen, and Swift spoke about how to reduce this risk.
“Gun storage to me is not as relevant if the ammunition is not readily available, so separate the two,” Swift said. He recommended completely unloading any gun that is going to be stored, including removing any rounds from the chamber. The ammunition, he said, should be placed in a separate location from the weapon, a safe if possible or a high shelf.
“There’s a saying in the hunting and the law enforcement business, ‘You don’t get that bullet back,’ you just don’t, so one mistake,” he said, emphasizing the importance of prevention.
Swift also advocated for educating children about the danger guns present early on.
“We live in Texas, and there are a lot of guns in a lot of houses. It doesn’t hurt to educate the kids,” he said. “Children are curious by nature, so at a certain age, whether it be 3 or whether it be 5, a lot of people introduce their kids to the gun to show them what it is, how it works...to me, it’s as soon as the kids can start comprehending, as soon as they know bad from good. You don’t touch a knife, you don’t run with scissors, you never, ever touch a firearm. When they get to a certain age, then you can take them to the range and introduce them to how the gun actually works.”
The warden pointed out that many children in Texas encounter guns while at a neighbor’s house, so it’s also important to discuss what gun practices will be followed with any adults other than yourself who take responsibility for your kids.
“That’s where a lot of our accidents happen: in vehicles and at neighbors’ houses,” Swift said.
He concluded with some basic advice: “Treat all guns like they’re loaded.”
Swift also pointed out that allowing a child to gain access to a loaded gun is a prosecutable offense, “and it is enhancable. If you leave it accessible for a child, if there is serious bodily injury or death, it’s a Class A misdemeanor. It’s a jailable offense.”
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