By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gun ownership in Minnesota is at a historic high. With more guns in households, advocates say there’s a greater need for educating kids about gun safety.

Minnesota ranks sixth in the country for highest gun sales per capita. Rob Doar, senior vice president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, says more than 106,000 new permits were issued in Minnesota last year — a new record up from 2020’s record of more than 96,000.

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“Last year was the largest year for permits to carry, and industry data shows there’s are more first-time gun owners, particularly in metro areas and suburban areas,” Doar said.

He and other gun safety advocates are concerned that kids are dying because of a lack of precautions taken by adult gun owners.

“If your plan for keeping them safe is hiding your gun, they’re gonna find it,” Doar said. They find their Easter presents, they find their Christmas presents. Kids will find it.”

Doar says removing the mystery about guns is important.

“Make sure they understand that they’re not toys, they’re not things to be played with,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

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He says teaching kids this simple rule goes a long way: If you see a gun, stop, don’t touch, leave the area and tell an adult.

That didn’t happen when a gun was found by a 10-year-old boy and a teenager inside a downtown Minneapolis apartment. Amare Mayberry-Campbell died from a gunshot.

“Every gun shop and every sheriff’s department, every police department has locks available. They are given to them from Project ChildSafe,” Doar said.

Doar says the vast majority of guns come with a lock when you purchase it.

“Separate the components of the firearm,” he said.

You can also remove the bolt from a rifle or the slide or from a pistol and separate them. Keeping guns and ammunition separate is another layer of protection when to comes to kids and guns.

Minnesota law makes it a gross misdemeanor to negligently store or leave a loaded gun where a child can get access.

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers a hunter safety course for kids 10 and up, where they learn what a firearm is and what it can do.

Reg Chapman