TYLER (KYTX) - Sobering statistics out on children and guns.... According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are about 7,500 child hospitalizations and 500 in-hospital deaths each year from gun injuries.
Regular deer season opens statewide this Saturday. Gun experts say it's a parent's responsibility to educate their children and make sure they know guns are serious weapons- not toys. And, they need to be handled with caution and care.
"It is against the law. It is a state statute. You have to keep firearms away from children."
John Coblentz has three different National Rifle Association certificates and also teaches Concealed Handgun License classes.
"I've always taught my kids that if you're not ready to shoot, if you're not in your stand, there's no need to have a shell in the barrel." he says.
He started talking with his sons about gun safety when they were just five years old.
"When they're that age, they just start waving them around, you know, they don't know. You've got to teach them, keep your finger off the trigger, proper way to carry the gun where you've got muzzle control..."
He says you should never keep a loaded gun in your home.
"Even with the best training that you teach your kids all the way up- a lot of times your child is perfectly safe, there's nothing- it's his friends who come over to the house or something like that. So, you're still responsible for that too."
Coblentz says gun training is a continual education.
"It never ends."
And, he's still teaching his sons to this day.
"Yeah, I say 'hey, watch your barrel! You've got the safe--' It's just a habit I have."
He says accidents can be prevented around your children with open communication and simple home safety measures.
Coblentz says along with keeping guns unloaded and locked up, you can also use trigger guards for extra safety.
Coblentz has four gun safety rules that apply to everyone as we head into regular deer season.
One, muzzle control. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times.
Two, keep your finger off the trigger until you're actually ready to fire.
Three, know your target and only shoot if it's safe to do so.
And four, unless you're in the stand and in a "ready position," keep your gun unloaded.
One last reminder- don't ever drink alcohol while hunting or handling your gun.