Parents reinforce gun safety in light of shootings

Speedway police officer Christopher Helmer teaches his kids about gun safety.
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SPEEDWAY - Several accidental shootings recently, from Connersville to Martinsville to Indianapolis, are all sobering reminders about children and gun safety.

Experts say it's up to parents to protect their children and own guns responsibly.

In the Helmer home, where there are four young children, talk about firearms is frank. Dad Christopher Helmer is also a Speedway police officer. He emphasizes safety and his kids know the rules.

"I teach the kids about guns. They know all about guns. They know what they can do, but the first thing they know is that they're never allowed to touch one," Helmer said.

"I know don't touch it. Go ask an adult or somebody that you know owns it," explained Helmer's six-year-old daughter, Summer. "It's important, because if you pick it up and you don't know it's loaded and you shoot it, you might kill somebody."

For gun owners, locking up guns and educating children about gun safety is paramount, especially in the wake of the Connersville shooting. Investigators say a five-year-old accidentally shot and killed his two-year-old brother. The handgun was not secured and its magazine was loaded. Police say the child knew how to chamber a gun.

"It's so sad, because it's so preventable," Helmer said.

"Leaving a loaded gun out around children, it's not an accident. It's negligence," said Mark Pearcy of Premier Arms in Brownsburg.

Pearcy says there are steps every parent should take if they own a gun and he recommends them to people who walk into the Brownsburg gun store: Take a firearms safety course, educate your kids, store ammunition and guns separately and make sure each gun has a lock.

"It comes with a lock that goes through the action out the barrel and there's a padlock on it. That renders the gun inoperable," Pearcy explained.

Federal law requires that all guns sold, new or used, come with some sort of locking device. If you don't have one, you can get a free gun lock at most police or fire stations. Many gun stores will give you a free lock if you ask as well.

Pearcy also recommended, if you absolutely have to have a loaded gun and you have children in the home, a gun vault is the way to go. A small vault that uses a code to secure a handgun runs about $150.

Helmer keeps his guns secured. He says his children are too important to risk.