The one common denominator in every firearm injury or death is access to a loaded firearm. The most important action parents, caregivers and gun owners can do to protect children is reduce their access to firearms and safely store all guns.
Remember, simply hiding a gun – even if you think you’ve found a great spot! – is no match for a curious child. In 2015 alone, 19 toddlers inadvertently killed themselves, 25 other toddlers injured themselves, 13 injured other people, and 2 killed other people. 1 Store your firearms unloaded in a safe or with a locking device, with ammunition stored in a separate, secure safe. For help finding the right storage solution, visit lockitup.org.
In addition to keep young members of your family safe, secure storage prevents crimes from being committed with your gun. U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics report found that 1.4 million firearms were stolen across the country from 2005 through 2010. It also found that the vast majority – at least 80 percent – were never recovered. 2
Safe storage also helps prevent depressed young people from dying by suicide. Contrary to popular myth, suicide is preventable and is often an impetuous act, especially for teens. Removing a highly-effective method of death – a gun – from the equation reduces the chances of teens in your home ending their own lives. States requiring gun locks see a 68% lower suicide rate compared with states without laws requiring gun locks. 3 4
Lastly, safe storage of your firearms will help keep our schools and communities safe. The teenaged Reynolds High School shooter used his brother’s and father’s guns. The Marysville High School shooter used his father’s gun. Surely their families never imagined their easily-accessed firearms would lead to such devastating outcomes.
In Multnomah County, safe firearm storage isn’t just a good idea, it’s the law. Under Multnomah County Ordinance 15.066, “Endangering a Child by Allowing Access to a Firearm”, a person commits the offense of endangering a child if a person fails to prevent access to a loaded or unloaded firearm by a minor without the permission of the person, a parent or guardian, when the person knew or reasonably should have known that a minor could gain access to the firearm. 5
- Mascia, Jennifer (December 23, 2015) 15 Statistics that Tell the Story of Gun Violence this Year ↩
- Salter, Jim (August 25, 2015) Police Tackling New Gun Trend Nationwide ↩
- Bakalar, Nicholas (August 19, 2015) Gun Laws Associated with Lower Suicide Rates ↩
- Michael D. Anestis, PhD, and Joye C. Anestis PhD (April 29, 2015) Suicide Rates and State Laws Regulating Access and Exposure to Handguns ↩
- Multnomah County Ordinance 15.066, “Endangering a Child by Allowing Access to a Firearm” ↩