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  • The story begins with a policeman coming home after a long day. He wearily greets his family, tosses his gun and holster aside, and falls asleep on the sofa. The next morning, his three-year-old son wanders into the kitchen where his mother is preparing breakfast. When she turns around, the child holds out the gun to her. This story may or may not have a happy ending.

    In the emergency room at Hasbro Children's Hospital, a Level I trauma center, physicians and nurses often see what happens when firearms get into the wrong hands. 

    The statistics tell the story: 

    • 10 children die every day in this country as a result of injuries from guns
    • one in three homes has a gun
    • in those homes, 20 percent of the guns are kept loaded and unlocked
    • In the 10- to 34-year-old age group, injury from firearms is the second leading cause of death

    These are statistics that must be changed to protect children and families. As a start, Lifespan has spearheaded a gun safety program. In 1999, Lifespan joined with local police departments and community groups to host a series of statewide gun safety fairs. At the fairs, Lifespan staff distributed--free of charge--more than 2,000 trigger locks. Funds for the locks came from Lifespan's Community Health Institute, Kent and South County hospitals and the Rhode Island Prevention Coalition. Along with the locks, physicians talked with people about ways to keep kids away from guns, and police officers demonstrated the proper use of locks.

    As providers of health care, law enforcement and community well being, we feel a collective need to do more to prevent firearms tragedies. Our hope is that this is just the first of many such programs to safeguard children. If we can prevent just one injury, it will be well worth all our efforts.