Keeping kids safe in a gun-friendly home

Gun safety: Protecting your family

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The fear of gun-buying restrictions is the main driver in spiked purchases, according to a recent national analysis of gun sales.

Gun shops in the Carolinas are seeing the trend locally. What might surprise you is you don’t need a safety course to own a firearm.

"You can take any rifle or any shotgun in this store and you can walk up to the counter, fill out some paperwork, pay for it and walk out the door,” gun safety expert Dan Starks told NBC Charlotte from the counter of Hyatt Gun.

He says you might not know how to load a gun, and it won’t prevent you from buying one.

“I think that’s a real shame because we assume that people know how to handle these things and they don't,” Starks added, “And it’s the mishandling that causes the accidents."

Across the country we’ve already seen about 200 accidental shooting this year. It happens everywhere and adults aren’t the only victims.

In 2015 there were at least 43 cases of a child age 3 or younger shooting someone.

This past November, a 3-year-old in Rock Hill died after he accidently shot himself with a gun he found.

"The first thing you got to do is address the issue of, ‘Okay, I'm going to introduce firearms into my home. How do I do that safely?’ Hiding them from the kids: big mistake. Big mistake," Starks says.

Starks, who teaches gun classes for adults, says kids are curious of things they don’t understand.

"You need to educate your child," he emphasized.

Starks also encourages parents to test their kids to see what they would do if they found a gun. He says parents shouldn’t be afraid to take a child to the range.

"Regardless of how much education they have you still got to lock them up. You've got to make them inaccessible."

Everytown For Gun Safety, a group that advocates for stricter gun laws, estimates more than two-third of all accidental shootings could be avoided if gun owners stored their firearms responsibly and prevented children from accessing them.

We looked at a variety of options at Hyatt Guns-- ranging from barrel and chamber locks to standard vaults and biovaults that require a finger print to unlock.

"They're vaults that you can put in a code. Put a loaded gun in, push the button, the gun's accessible,” Starks explained, as he showed us the vaults, “If I put the wrong code in it that light turns red; that says to mom and dad your kids are messing around with something they shouldn't be."

Additionally, he says you should lock away your ammunition separately from any firearm.

North Carolina law allows for criminal charges and penalties for someone who lives with a child and leaves a firearm accessible to the child. South Carolina doesn’t have a child access prevention law, but there are two bills pending to address the issue.

"I think people are better off having more knowledge and more education than less."

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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