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Gun safety and kids: Gun store owner, advocate weigh in after accidental shooting of 2-year-old

Posted at 12:17 AM, Jan 26, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — The investigation continues into the accidental shooting of a two-year-old on Monday night.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department says his parents flagged down an ambulance as they were taking him to the hospital. At last check, the child was stable.  

From changing laws to growing crime rates, firearm safety is a major focus for law enforcement and local officials. But when it comes to accidental shootings among children, one expert says we're not talking about it enough.

"Over the last two decades, firearms involving child fatalities have declined. But I think there has been an uptick during the pandemic years," said Bill Brassard, Senior Director of Communications with Project ChildSafe.

Brassard said that uptick can be explained by children spending more time at home and proper gun storage while not in use is key.

"Hiding a gun is not safe storage. Putting it on top of the refrigerator, in a shoebox or closet or a nightstand, that's not secure storage," said Brassard.  

Ryan Vaden, owner of Vaden’s Firearms and Ammunition, said children are very curious when it comes to guns — something he sees firsthand when they come in his shop with their parents.  

"A lot of times they're coming into Vaden's with their small child to buy a gun, maybe two, three, four, five years old, and when they see those guns, they're intrigued and they're like, 'Wow my mother's buying a gun,' and you can see their face looking like, 'This is really legit,'" said Vaden.  
Vaden said starting that conversation about gun safety early is necessary.  

"So, this way if your child walks past in the kitchen and you have your firearm on top of the refrigerator or microwave, they're not going out of their way to climb on top because they know what that firearm is capable of doing," said Vaden.  

Born and raised in the Circle City, Vaden is choosing to be a part of the solution. He offers private lessons to teach people how to properly handle guns. In fact, he also includes children.

"I'd rather they sit here and learn from someone with the knowledge than learning from music videos or someone watching their friends," said Vaden.  

Gun locks can help save lives. It's something Vaden encourages all gun owners to invest in, and a message Project ChildSafe has been sharing for years.  

"We are actively providing our gun locks and gun safety education materials to communities throughout the country. Any law enforcement department in the country can request free gun locks and safety literature and we're pleased to provide that," said Brassard.  

The Marion County Sheriff's Office provides free gun locks through all Indianapolis Public Library locations. All you need to do is ask library staff.

If you’re interested in gun safety training, visit Vaden’s Firearms & Ammunition on Facebook.