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Study: Most children can't tell the difference between toy guns and real ones

Only 41 percent could correctly differentiate

FILE - This April 28, 2016, file photo shows a semi-automatic handgun, left, next to a Powerline 340 BB gun, right, similar to a BB gun. (AP Photo/Juliet Linderman, File)
FILE - This April 28, 2016, file photo shows a semi-automatic handgun, left, next to a Powerline 340 BB gun, right, similar to a BB gun. (AP Photo/Juliet Linderman, File) (Associated Press)

ORLANDO, Fla. – As toy guns become more and more realistic, it's becoming harder to differentiate them from the real deal, especially for children.

A recent study found only 41 percent of children surveyed between 7 and 17 years old could correctly identify a real gun from a fake one when presented with photographs.

Dr. Kiesha Fraser Doh, assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine physician at Emory University School of Medicine,  conducted the study along with her colleagues to demonstrate the importance of safe gun storage techniques, particularly in homes with children.

"One of the most dramatic findings was how easily caregivers and children can confuse real guns with today's realistic-looking toy guns," Fraser Doh said. "Especially considering gun owners surveyed were nearly twice as likely as non-gun owners to let their children play with toy guns, safe storage of firearms in homes where children play is critical."

Fraser Doh and her colleagues asked 297 caregiver-child pairs visiting three different pediatric emergency departments questions about guns and gun ownership. Of those respondents, 25 percent were gun owners.

Gun owners were more likely to let their children play with toy guns at 51 percent compared to 26 percent for non-gun owners, and 14 percent of gun owners' children reported they believed they could obtain a gun within 24 hours, while only 4 percent of children whose caregivers did not own a gun said the same. Five percent of parents overall believed their children could get a gun within a day.

For children who lived in a household with a gun, 53 percent said they knew where it was stored and 45 percent said they knew where the ammunition was kept.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends guns be kept locked and unloaded in a location separate from where ammunition is kept, although only 34 percent of respondents said they did so.

For more information on firearm safety and storage, click here.

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