Officials share safety tips to keep guns away from kids

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A five-year-old boy inadvertently shoots himself in the hand. This happened Tuesday night on Highland Avenue near Schellenger Park in Beloit.

Authorities say the child was taken to Javon Bea hospital, where he was treated and released. The investigation is still ongoing. Beloit Police say they are also working with Child Protective Services in regard to the investigation.

Scary situations like that may have people thinking about gun safety. There are some easy tips to follow to prevent accidental shootings. Some people believe having these conversations with children can’t start soon enough.

“You need to have that conversation with them as soon as you think they’ll understand,” Herb Vergara, gun owner for over 30 years, said.

Herb Vergara is a father of three boys. As a gun owner, he says he’s constantly talking to his kids about his guns.

“I always ask them, ‘what would you do if you saw this out laying around and I’m not around?’ and they will say ‘don’t touch it first and then get you or get a parent,” Vergara said.

This message is what Kenny Polhamus, owner of Kap Guns in Loves Park, say is necessary.

“They’re not dangerous,” Polhamus said. “They’re just a tool.”

Polhamus then said, “They’re only as dangerous as the person that owns them.”

Kenny recommends not making guns a taboo topic and even believes you should bring your child along with you to the gun range or out hunting, so they can get familiar with them.

“The more you do with them and take them with you and include them, the less scared or the less intriguing the gun is,” Polhamus said.

Another option is using a gun lock, which you can usually get for free.

“This is probably the cheapest thing you could do to properly store a weapon or as safely as you can store a weapon minus buying the gun vault,” Chris Aldrich, with the Rockford Police Department, said.

Investigator Chris Aldrich demonstrates how to use one.

“You would insert the gun lock accordingly, lock it up there, take the key out, so one of two things will happen is the gun, even if somebody which they wouldn’t be able to, the magazine wouldn’t go in there,” Aldrich said. “The gun is called what’s out of battery, so any pull of the trigger gun click, the gun will not operate.”

If your child ends up injured or worst from the firearm. you may be investigated with child negligence by the DCFS.

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