Dozens of children left the Atascadero Police Department Saturday armed with a new education on how to be safe around firearms.
Atascadero Police Detective Kellye Nentz said she developed the program after her children were born and she recognized the danger they faced being in a home with her firearms.
"The possibility of a child finding a gun in public, at a grandparent’s house, at a friend’s house, that’s all very real," Nentz said. "So giving them the tools to make good choices when they do find a gun is very important."
The statistics are staggering. A study from the Centers for Disease Control found that on average,19 children are shot, whether it’s accidentally or intentionally, every day in the U.S.
"There are real guns out there all over the place," Nentz said. "I’ve been in foot pursuits where they had a gun at the beginning when we started but not at the end of the pursuit and we were never able to find it."
Nentz believes educating kids about guns early on can save lives.
In the hour-long program, children as young as three years old experienced real life scenarios where they encounter a gun and learn about safety.
"I show them different things like rifles, handguns and shotguns so they can learn not all guns look the same," Nentz said.
Children were also shown an informational safety video produced by the National Rifle Association, which depicted animal friends finding a gun in a backpack left behind at a park.
The animals sing a song with the lyrics "stop, don’t touch, run away, tell a grown up."
The message sunk in for Caleb Overacker, 7, who attended the program.
"If you ever see a gun, don’t touch it because you could get hurt if you touch it in the wrong place, or hurt someone else," Overacker said.
It’s a message these parents hope sticks with their kids even after the leave the police department.
"There’s always opportunity for them to find a gun," Amoreena Anker, a mother of three boys who attended the program, said. "We don’t have them at home personally, so I wanted to make sure they are familiar with them and know there’s opportunity to find them in weird places like the kitchen drawer or grocery bag and what to do with them."