On Monday, JAMA Pediatrics released a new study on preventing gun deaths in young people in America. The study estimates that if more adults in households with children and teens responsibly stored their guns, it could result in fewer firearm deaths from suicides and unintentional shootings among youth.
The authors estimated that if just 20 percent of households switched from leaving at least one of their guns unlocked to storing all of their guns locked, in a single year, the deaths of nearly 100 children and teens could be prevented.
According to the #NotAnAccident Index, there are an average of 355 unintentional shootings by children per year. Roughly one person is shot everyday by a child who is able to get their hands on an unsecured gun.
What’s more, more than a third of child and teen gun deaths are suicides and research indicates that responsible gun storage practices are associated with reduced rates of child firearm suicide. An estimated 4.6 million American children live in homes with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked. Evidence also shows that the majority of guns used in incidents of gunfire on school grounds are taken from the home of the shooter, a family member or the home of friends.
To address this life or death issue, gun owners and non-gun owners alike should look to the Be SMART program. By inspiring a series of conversations about responsible gun storage, Be SMART helps adults learn about the simple steps that everyone can take to help keep children safe:
- Secure all guns in homes and vehicles
- Model responsible behavior
- Ask about firearms in other homes your child visits
- Tell your peers to Be SMART.
Recognize the role of guns in suicide
If you have any questions on responsible gun storage or would like to speak with a Be SMART advocate, don’t hesitate to reach out.