KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There’s a key that Mercedes Hayslett will never let her kids use. It’s to a cabinet where she keeps her gun.
“Lock it up. If you love your child, that’s what you would do,” she said.
Her sons also have guns but she says she’s constantly telling them to be extra careful, especially around her 16-month-old grandson.
“I’ve witnessed this first hand where the gun is laying on the bed and my grandson is walking.” Hayslett said.
Those accidents can sometimes be fatal. Dr. Leslie Hueschen works with Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Children’s Mercy says the majority of gun shot wounds she treats are avoidable.
“We have recently this summer seen a lot of gun shot wounds and gun shot injuries that have come in. Maybe more than I’ve seen in the last couple of years,” said Hueschen.
Children’s Mercy is now offering free gun locks to families of the hospital. Hueschen says sometimes hiding the gun isn’t enough to keep children safe.
“I think hiding it away, you’ve hidden away the binkie from the toddler and they always seem to find it. A gun being something interesting for children, they’ll find it,” she described.
It’s the children’s curiosity that often gets them in trouble. That’s why Hayslett is doing what she can as a grandma to protect her only grandson.
“Just that one little incident could’ve killed my grandson because he could’ve walked right up and picked it up and it would’ve discharged. I just know,” Hayslett said.
The free gun locks are only available to clients of Children’s Mercy.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is also giving away free gun locks to the community.