In 1877, 17-year-old Frank Eaton, aka Pistol Pete (he’s the original one), was commissioned as a U.S. marshal. He lived by the gun but died from natural causes after a long, full life at age 97. Unfortunately, many stories about youngsters and guns don’t have happy endings. In 2013, researchers at the national conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that in the U.S., around 7,500 kids a year (more than 20 every day) are hospitalized for gunshot wounds. About 500 die in the hospital.
And there are other ways that guns harm kids. Last month we mentioned how lead-filled dust lingers in the air at many indoor firing ranges, contaminating range workers and visitors, and making them sick. The lead dust also travels home on their skin and clothes, where their children are put at risk for lead poisoning. g
That information — and examples of the serious health consequences — comes from an important piece of investigative journalism written by reporters at the Seattle Times. (We originally attributed the material to The Columbian, and want to set the record straight.)
We know it’s your right to have a gun, but you and your children also have the right to be safe from gun-inflicted dangers. So, keep ammo and guns in separate, locked locations out of children’s reach; warn kids about the dangers of playing with any firearm; and ask your gun range for proof of top-notch sanitation and air filtering, or go elsewhere. Now we’re done shooting our mouths off!
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.