(CNSNews.com) - On this first day of summer, anti-gun groups are observing the fifth annual National ASK Day -- ASK, an acronym for "asking saves kids."
Anti-gun activists say with most children now out of school, the question parents should be asking is this: "Is there a gun where your child plays?"
Groups taking part in National ASK Day include Pax/Real Solutions to Gun Violence (in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics); Physicians for Social Responsibility; CeaseFire PA; and Million Mom March Chapters of Pennsylvania.
Representatives from those groups plan to hold an "educational" press conference at noon on Tuesday in Philadelphia -- "to inform parents and physicians of strategies to reduce the threat of gun violence to children," as the press release put it.
According to the Pax anti-gun coalition, more than 40 percent of American homes with children have guns, and many of those guns, it says, are kept unlocked and loaded. Each year thousands of children are killed or injured in shootings involving these guns, the press release said.
The ASK Campaign encourages parents to ask their neighbors if they have a gun in the home before sending their children out to play, and it also encourages physicians to ask their patients if they have guns in the house.
Pax launched its first ASK campaign in the fall of 2000, and it says in the program's first two years, the number of parents who said guns are a top concern when their children visit someone's home rose from 5 percent to 19 percent.
The number of parents who said they have been asked about guns in their home rose from 5 percent to 10 percent in the same time period, Pax said.
"Parents are now talking with their neighbors about guns in the home as a routine part of good parenting, bringing the issue out into the open for the first time," PAX said on its website.
"Through the ASK Campaign, America is changing the way it looks at guns and gun violence, and most importantly, lives are being saved," the group claimed.
ASK is sponsored by the American Medical Association, and its endorsers include the following:
American Federation of Teachers
American Public Health Association
Children's Defense Fund
The Interfaith Alliance Foundation
National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
National Education Association
National Head Start Association
National Parenting Association
Physicians For Social Responsibility
Police Executive Research Forum
Pax/Real Solutions to Gun Violence describes itself as "the largest non-political, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the gun violence epidemic in America."
This year, the group has partnered with Good Housekeeping magazine in sponsoring a contest that asks communities to "spell out the letters A-S-K in the most creative and compelling way possible."
Pax also is distributing brochures offering tips in English and Spanish on how to ask about guns in other people's homes; and it urges concerned citizens to write articles and letters to the editor (sample provided) to spread the word about the ASK Campaign.
Second Amendment groups such as the National Rifle Association have long advocated programs that teach children gun safety as the best way to reduce accidental shootings in homes with guns.
Some Second Amendment advocates also note that statistics on the number of children killed or injured by guns are skewed by the inclusion of older teenagers -- gang members and other criminals who don't care about gun safety and have no respect for the law.
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