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Most kids can’t tell the difference between real guns and toy guns

Most kids can’t tell the difference between real guns and toy guns. A recent survey of parents and caregivers, some of whom were firearm owners, found that most were confident their children could distinguish between a real gun and a toy gun. The majority of children surveyed were certain they could recognize the difference as well. However, when shown side-by-side photographs, only 41 percent of children between the ages of 7 and 17 correctly identified real and fake firearms.

Dr. Kiesha Fraser Doh is an assistant professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

“One of the most dramatic findings was how easily caregivers and children can confuse real guns with today’s realistic-looking toy guns,” said Dr. Doh. “Especially considering gun owners surveyed were nearly twice as likely as non-gun owners to let their children play with toy guns, safe storage of firearms in homes where children play is critical.”

The investigation was focused on 297 caregiver-child pairs visiting one of three pediatric emergency departments in the southeastern United States.

Overall, 25 percent of respondents were gun owners. These participants were more likely to be white, have an annual income of greater than $50,000, and to have some college education compared with non-gun owners. Furthermore, gun owners were more likely to let their children play with toy guns.

The caregivers were also asked how easily they thought their child could access a real gun, and only five percent believed their child could obtain a gun within 24 hours. By contrast, 14 percent of the children whose caregivers owned guns and four percent of the children whose caregivers did not own guns said they could access a gun within one day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that guns should be locked up, unloaded, and stored separately from ammunition, yet less than 34 percent of firearms owners were found to comply with these recommendations. In addition, among children who reported having a gun in the home, 53 percent knew where the firearm was stored and 45 percent knew where ammunition was stored.

Dr. Doh will present the research on Monday, November 5, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2018 National Conference & Exhibition.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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