Gun safety options: Keeping firearms away from children

By Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter, Andy Cerota - Anchor/Reporter

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - In the hands of a trained professional, guns are nothing but a tool used for protection.

But in the hands of a child, they are a disaster waiting to happen.

Over a span of four days in 2015, three young boys, under six years of age, were all shot dead in the Houston area recently while playing with guns -- guns that were loaded and unlocked.

Channel 2 Investigates has set out to show you just a couple simple devices that could save your child's life.

The first is the simplest, cheapest device you can find, a standard cable gun lock. It's basically a steel cable covered in plastic that you snake through the barrel of the gun or through the clip holder or magazine.

Once in place, you lock it up and the gun will not fire.

It works with any type handgun and costs about $15.

Perhaps most importantly, it can be removed in four to five seconds, so it won't slow you down

Want something even easier?

Try a biometric, locking gun box.

Liberty Safes is one manufacturer that makes a box called The HDX 150 Smart Vault that doesn’t even require a key.

You simply swipe your finger across a small pad and the box reads your fingerprint and opens.

It's programmed to read only your fingerprint and retails for about $200.

Heath Moore of Moore Security in Houston says the box is very strong, small and easy to carry and it also gives you quick access to your firearm.

"You just swipe your finger twice, once to turn it on, once immediately afterward to open, grab your gun and you're ready in about five seconds", Heath says.

Locks are vital, but also important according to Miguel Yanez, a firearms instructor at The Athena Gun Club in Houston, is to sit your children down and have a serious talk with them about the dangers of guns.

Miguel is a former Navy Seal and both he and his police officer wife carry a sidearm to work every day.

They also have an 8-year-old son, also named Miguel.

"Don't think hiding your weapon is going to keep your kids safe because it won't work, they will absolutely find it, you can count on it," Yanez says.

Instead Miguel advises parents to take the mystery and curiosity out of the whole gun experience.

"Sit them down and with the gun unloaded, let your kids touch it, hold it, feel it in their hands. But make it clear they can never touch that weapon again at any time without you being there with them. Make them understand that weapon can kill and can never be played with like a toy," Yanez said. "We don't need any more tragedy involving our children."

Education is crucial

Kyle Harrison, the general manger of Top Gun Shooting Range & Training Center also said education is a key component and can make a real difference in gun safety.

“We do training for adults and children. We have a ton of classes, especially during the summer months when the children are out of school. It’s the best way to kill the curiosity with them. You expose them to it, you talk to them about the four rules of firearm safety,” Harrison said.

Harrison believes parents are the best judge of when their kids are ready to take a class.

“You get to them. You have a respect for them and they don’t mess with them anymore unless they know they are out of range or they know they are supposed to have their parents with them,” Harrison said.

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