Kids fire blanks when telling real from toy guns
These findings have led to a call for a ban on replica guns
Place a toy gun and an actual firearm before a child, and the odds are they’ll not be able to decipher which one is real.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently revealed that most children who took part in its study weren’t able to tell the difference between a fake weapon and the real thing.
Gun Free SA believes the situation here is no different, and has supported a call by community policing forums for a ban on replica guns.
Nearly 300 caregiver-children pairs who visited paediatric emergency departments in the US over three months last year took part in the study.
The research also found that the parents surveyed, among them gun owners, said they were confident their children could tell a real gun apart from a toy gun.
The children themselves also said they thought they could recognise the difference.
But when shown side-by-side images of actual and fake firearms, only 41% of youngsters – between the ages of seven and 17 – identified both correctly, according to the research.
“One of the most dramatic findings was how easily caregivers and children can confuse real guns with today’s realistic-looking toy guns.
“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,” researchers said.
They also asked caregivers how easily they thought their child could access a real gun.
Overall, 5% felt their child could obtain a gun within 24 hours.
However, results show that 14% of the children whose caregivers owned guns and 4% of children whose caregivers didn’t own a gun said they could access a gun within a day.
Among the children who reported having a gun in the home, 53% knew where it was stored and 45% knew where ammunition was kept.
In SA, according to Gun Free SA, 23 people are shot and killed every day.
“Within the current context of escalating gun violence, Gun Free SA supports the call by some community policing forums, especially in the Western Cape, for a ban on replica guns,” said Adele Kirsten, the director of Gun Free SA.
“That children cannot tell the difference between real and imitation guns puts them at huge risk of getting injured or killed with a real gun, believing it to be a toy.”
Kirsten said according to a recent media report, the police themselves found it difficult to tell the difference between a replica and a genuine firearm.
“If all imitation firearms were banned, the police’s work would be made much easier, as the police would know whether a gun was real or not and be able to act appropriately,” she added.