Firearms is now the leading cause of death among teens in the US & renews calls for safe gun storage

by Hayden Cooper
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Firearms is now the leading cause of death among teens

The importance and the need for increased safe gun storage has been highlighted by data recently released by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) wherein firearms are now the leading cause of death among teens in the US. The CDC has reported that over 45,000 firearm related deaths occurred in 2020 in the U.S.

Out of the 45,000 reported firearm deaths, the majority of the deaths were suicides involving guns (over 54%) and about 1% were due to preventable/accidental deaths involving guns. As of 2022, about 45 percent of U.S. households had at least one gun in their possession.

Suicide is a very personal and complicated issue and there are often multiple factors that contributes to someone taking their own life. However, easy unrestricted access to guns by teens and adults in a household makes it a lot easier to commit suicide.

Furthermore, 1% of deaths due to preventable accidental firearm discharge may seem statistically insignificant at first, but it basically means that 1 human life is lost every day in the US. This includes minors and children as well.

Moreover, homicide rates involving guns were the highest among young teens and adults aged 15 to 34 years. For many decades in the US automobile accidents were the leading cause of death among children and teens. However, in 2020 guns became the leading cause of death among children and teens in the US. A consistent increase in firearms purchased in the US over the last years is not helping either.

Due to the easy access to gun, the U.S. gun death rate is the highest among the developed countries such as Canada, Australia and nearly all European countries. The use of firearms in suicide and death by accidental discharge can all be prevented if attention is paid to proper firearm storage and use of gun holsters to prevent accidents.

Due to the increased death rates both the CDC and other related agencies have rung the alarm bells across the nation for increased awareness for safe gun storage. These deaths can be avoided if the issue was highlighted and awareness raised to higher levels.

Even though there are many ways to practice safe gun storage, many Americans are often guilty of not securing their firearms after use in their homes. According to some conservative estimates, at least 38% of households kept their firearms loaded at all times.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) have both come up with easy, simple guidelines and best practices with regards to storing guns safely. Due to the Covid – 19 pandemic and significant increase in work from home work, safe gun storage has become all the more important.


Best Practices for Safe Gun Storage


Many of us mistake gun safety only about the handling of a firearm and its proper discharge. However, safe gun storage is an essential part of gun safety which is often overlooked. The following are steps that assist in safe gun storage and are general guidelines and apply to all firearms:


1) Keep the gun unloaded and secured in a holster


As a responsible gun owner, firearms should only be loaded when you need to discharge your gun. This could be in a shooting range, self defense or target practice out in the open.

When you are not using your gun, keep it unloaded and secured in a holster. Its does not get any simpler. As a gun owner, it is your duty to keep it away from small children and other individuals who are not authorized to access or use your gun. Keeping your gun unloaded is easiest way to save lives and prevent accidents.


2) Keep the gun locked securely


Securely storing your firearms when not in use is the number one way to prevent fatal accidents and suicides. When not using your firearm, it is essential to keep the gun unloaded and locked. A gun can be locked in a variety of ways such as:

Cable lock:

cable lock for gun

Cable lock for gun

A simple and the cheapest way to keep your gun secure is to get a cable lock which can be used on nearly all firearms. The cable runs through the magazine chamber or through the barrel and can be quickly opened either with a key or a combination.

Gun Case or Lock box:

Gun case for safe gun storage

Gun case for safe gun storage

A gun case helps to protect and conceal your weapon. A gun case can be made of plastic, metal or even leather. A gun case should have a combination lock. Gun cases with locks are also TSA approved for airline travel.

Bio-metric Gun Safes:

Bio-metric Gun Safes

Bio-metric Gun Safes

It allows owners to safely store multiple firearms of all sizes in one place. These gun safes now come with bio-metric options thus ensuring that only certain authorized people have access to the guns. Bio-metric gun safes are normally the most expensive gun safes currently on the market.


3) Separating the gun and ammunition and storing them separately

gun and ammo

Gun and ammo

Storing your ammunition separately from your guns automatically reduces the risk of a loaded gun being accessible to a minor child or another family member. A gun without any ammo can do little harm and as a responsible gun owner it is your responsibility to ensure that both the gun and its ammunition are stored separately.


4) Educate your family and children about firearm safety


Childern in household with guns

Childern in household with guns

As a parent we talk to our children about many different topics on a daily basis. This could be about what our children see on the news like wars, famine, drugs, a movie, etc.

Similarly, if you keep guns in your house, you need to talk with your children about gun safety. It is important to remember that children as young as three maybe strong enough to pull the trigger on a gun. It is necessary that you repeat the information a number of times on different occasions so they understand its importance.

  • Your children should get the same information about safe gun storage from both you and your spouse so they understand its importance.

  • Just like any other topic that you discuss with your child, always encourage them to ask questions no matter how silly they may seem. Children are naturally curious about everything that they see for the first time, so encourage them to ask questions. Always answer them in a simple and easy way so they can understand.

  • It is important to educate and train your child to never touch or pick any gun or ammunition they see in the house. You should teach your children to immediately inform an adult and stay away from the firearm, as it may be loaded.

  • Just like other things in life, children normally follow adults and do the exact same things that they see other grown ups do. So if you set a high standard and be a responsible gun owner and practice safe gun storage, it is highly likely that your children in the house will do the same.

Useful Links about Gun Saftey

Project ChildSafe®


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