Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- As the debate continues across our nation over how to address to the topic of guns, we continue to see situations of accidental discharging of firearms that hurt and even kill children.
On April 9th, members of an apartment complex in Sumter were surprised to hear of the death of a 3-year old due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
However, injuries and deaths due to accidental discharge of firearms are not as uncommon as you may imagine, according to Heidi Vaughn, Safe Kids South Carolina State Coordinator.
Vaughn said, "Between 2002 and 2011, between the ages of 0-19, guns have been the 7th leading cause of death of children in our state, so it a very serious issue that we need to look at."
Safe Kids South Carolina's lead agency is the Children's Trust of South Carolina, the goal of the group is to prevent unintentional injuries to children.
"This could be preventable, easily preventable by getting parents to understand, you need to lock-up your guns, keep them out of reach, keep them unloaded, and to keep your ammunition and your guns locked up separately so that kids can't reach them," said Vaughn.
According to Vaughn, younger children need to know that television and movies are not real and that guns are not toys.
The older children and teens also need to know that you can't solve your problems by using guns, but no matter what age your children are, communication to kids is key when it comes to firearm safety.
"Whether you have a gun in the home or not, please talk to your children about guns, they can see them at your neighbor's house, they may see them down the street, your relatives may have guns." said Vaughn.
Vaughn said, "They are everywhere regardless, if you believe in having them or not, they are present."
Many law enforcement agencies across the Midlands offer free gun locks through Project ChildSafe for more information and a list of those offices, visit their website at http://www.projectchildsafe.org/.
For more information on about Safe Kids South Carolina, visit their website at http://www.scchildren.org/.