There are many more kids at home right now, with New Jersey school facilities closed over coronavirus concerns. The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence warns firearms owners to do the right thing when it comes to safety at home.

"We know that more than half of gun owners store at least one of their guns unlocked and unsecured in their home," the center's managing director, Laura Cutilletta, said. " And there are children living in homes that have unsecured guns. So this is something that we are always concerned with, unfortunately."

She said a recent tragedy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — when a 3-year-old shot himself with an unsecured handgun — demonstrates the danger. Earlier this year in New Jersey, a father of three young children had fallen asleep with a loaded handgun next to him on a bed when his 4-year-old son accidentally shot and killed himself, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office.

"In one study, 73% of children under age 10 living in homes with guns reported knowing the location of their parents’ firearms, and 36% admitted they had handled the weapons," Cutilletta said. "Many of these children handled guns without their parents’ knowledge. Nearly a quarter of parents did not know that their children had handled a gun in their house."

She said there are about 4.6 million minors living in homes with guns unsecured nationwide."

Cutilletta said trigger locks, gun safes and a lot of different safety devices can be helpful.

"Safely storing a gun means limiting the accessibility of a gun by an unauthorized user, including minors," she said. "This includes locking your guns in a secure place."

Cutilletta said more than half of all states impose liability on gun owners who don't secure their guns away from children.

"I think that the problem is that a lot of times parents do not think that the child knows that there is a gun in the home, (or think) they have no idea where the gun is," Cutilletta said. "But children do tend to know where things are and find things and climb. They can crawl under things, as we know from kids finding Christmas presents that are hidden."

Joe Cutter is the senior news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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