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In NC, Gun Storage is the Law

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Gun locks work, but many can only be used when the gun is unloaded.
RALEIGH — Five-year-old Linwood Martin and seven-year-old Terrell Kearney were both killed by bullets, accidentally shot from guns in the home. Neither of these horror stories nor education seem to be improving the problem. So how do we protect our children?

Many people own guns to protect themselves and their families. But statistics show a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a family member or friend than it is to kill in self-defense.

Elizabeth Wagner has three young children and three guns at home:

"My husband has a safe in our basement in an unfinished part where they can't get to them," Wagner explains, "and if they do get to them, they're locked up in a safe."

In North Carolina, that isn't just the responsible thing to do, it's the law. State law requires owners to keep their guns locked or out of the reach of children. Trigger locks will prevent your gun from firing. Safes use combination or padlocks to keep curious children out. Some experts suggest you teach your children about guns as they get older.

"I think education is probably the best tool," says range instructor Mike Ballard. "If they understand and respect what a firearm can do, it's just like anything else. You have to have a respect for it."

Educational videos can help younger children understand the dangers of playing with guns. Safety experts say it's imperative for parents to teach their kids that guns are not toys.

"If they come across a loaded gun or a firearm in general, to stop, leave it alone," Doug Robinson of the Center for Prevention of School Violence explains. "Tell an adult. Don't touch it. Don't pick it up and play with it."

Allowing a child access to a gun is a misdemeanor in North Carolina. In the Johnston County shooting that killed a five-year-old boy, the mother's boyfriend was charged with failing to secure his shotgun.