Click here to learn about Ask Day, which seeks to keep children away from unlocked guns. Photo by Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Click here to learn about Ask Day, which seeks to keep children away from unlocked guns. Photo by Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

June 21 is ASK Day, a campaign organized by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics — and supported by APHA — with a simple idea to keep children safe. The idea urges parents to ask other parents one question before sending their children over to play:

“Is there an unlocked gun in your house?”

Like APHA, Brady Campaign President Dan Gross believes gun deaths and injuries are a public health issue. On ASK Day, he spoke to Public Health Newswire about how parents can ask the one difficult, but potentially life-saving, question, and how public health professionals play a vital role in preventing gun deaths and injuries.

Visit APHA’s gun violence page to learn how we can address a leading cause of premature death in the U.S. And sign the Brady Campaign’s pledge to ask the question, too.

What are the goals of ASK Day, and how did it get started?

ASK Day was started to bring national attention to the ASK, or Asking Saves Kids, Campaign. The goal is to educate parents about the dangers of unsafe access to guns in the home and to encourage parents to start asking if there are unlocked guns in the homes where their kids play. We recognize ASK Day every year on the first day of summer because kids are getting out of school and many of them have a lot more free time to play; and asking about unlocked guns in the home is an important thing that every parent can do to make that play time is safer.

Many parents will find the question difficult to ask. The Brady Campaign suggests that parents confront the question head-on in this YouTube video.” How can parents, and gun owners with children, overcome any “awkwardness?”

The first piece of advice we give every parent is to keep it simple and straightforward and grounded in the reason why you’re asking in the first place, which is to keep your child healthy and safe. That is a goal every reasonable person can appreciate. Many parents already take measures to ensure their child is safe when they go to another home. They discuss things like allergies and internet safety. If possible, we suggest you simply include the question about access to guns as part of any other conversation you might have about your child’s safety.

If you feel like you need to explain any further, you can always cite a statistic, like the fact that nine kids in the US are shot unintentionally every day, or a story you might have heard about a tragedy that occurred because a child had access to a parent’s gun. It’s also important to realize the extent to which parents are receptive to the question, whether they own guns or not.

Parents almost never mind being asked about gun safety and are often appreciative of the fact that you’re asking and that you have provided them with information they can use to make their own kids safer.


Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence President Dan Gross. Photo by Brady Campaign

You, along with APHA, made the case to The Hill that gun violence is a public health issue. How can the public health community make this case to affect policy change?

Too often the “gun violence issue” is looked at as a political or philosophical debate about guns. We believe the key to effecting real policy change is to base the conversation, instead, on the opportunity to prevent the greatest number of gun deaths and injuries and to avoid the temptation to let anything else interfere. The public health community can play a major role by grounding whatever solutions we advocate — policy or otherwise — purely in public health and safety goals and by accepting the burden of demonstrating how the solutions we seek represent significant opportunities to reduce the number of gun deaths and injuries in our nation.

At Brady, we believe the key to doing this is simply to keep guns out of the wrong hands, whether it’s “prohibited purchasers” like convicted felons and domestic abusers, or straw purchasers and gun traffickers who supply the criminal market or unsafe access by kids in the home. We believe the greatest opportunity to make this a safer and healthier nation lies not in the goal of keeping certain guns away from all people, but in the goal of keeping all guns away from certain people — the people it turns out we all agree should not have them.

The public health community can be vitally important messengers to demonstrate that our goal is simply to prevent gun deaths and injuries and to advocate for the solutions that we can prove will help us achieve that goal.

Note: Visit the Brady Campaign to read Gross’ statement on the recent Charleston mass shooting incident.