As American life changes in the midst of COVID-19, millions of children and teens are home from school. Just as parents are taking precautions to prevent their families from becoming exposed to the virus, it’s crucial they take precautions within the home too — namely, keeping firearms locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition.
As we grapple with the new changes to everyday life, here are a few resources underscoring the importance of secure gun storage during this public health crisis:
- #NotAnAccident Index
- According to Everytown’s database, nearly 350 children and teens gain access to a firearm and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else in America every year.
- Nearly 77% of unintentional shootings take place inside a home.
- Firearm Suicide in the United States
- More than 600 children under 18 die by gun suicide on average year in America, a rate which has increased by 83% over the past 10 years.
- When American children die by firearm suicide, more than 80% use a gun belonging to a family member.
- Unload, Lock, and Separate: Secure Storage Practices to Reduce Gun Violence
- In the U.S., 13 million households with children under the age of 18 contain at least one gun, but not all of these firearms are stored securely. Roughly 4.6 million children live in a household where at least one gun is not securely stored.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees that storing guns unloaded and locked, with ammunition kept in a separate place can mitigate the risk of child firearm injury.
- Be SMART
- The Be SMART program lays out a series of simple steps to educate adults about how unsecured guns in the home can put children and teens at risk, and spread awareness about the best way to keep them safe.
- Children and teens are curious — that’s why it’s always the responsibility of adults to keep guns securely stored. The program asks parents and caretakers, gun owners and non-gun owners alike, to ‘Be SMART’ and take these simple steps:
- Secure all guns in homes and vehicles
- Model responsible behavior
- Ask about firearms in other homes your child visits
- Recognize the role of guns in suicide
- Tell your peers to Be SMART
Volunteers with Moms Demand Action are taking time during the COVID-19 crisis to elevate the Be SMART program and urge parents to take responsible precautions by keeping guns securely stored. If you’re interested in learning more about the program and how to prevent unintentional shootings and teen suicide in your community, please don’t hesitate to reach out.