How secure gun storage can help you keep your household safe
Firearms are the leading cause of death of children and teens age 1–19 in the United States of America. Death as a result of either purposeful or unintentional use of a firearm has surpassed the rate of deaths caused by motor vehicles and all forms of disease, and these rates continue to rise. Nearly 5 million children live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded firearm, leaving them at serious risk of death or injury every single day.
Wound care specialist Poornema Ramasamy, MD, explained how secure gun storage can help you keep your household safe.
How are children getting ahold of guns?
“There are a variety of ways that someone under the age of 18 may get ahold of a firearm,” said Dr. Ramasamy. “According to the U.S. Secret Service, about 75% of school shooters under the age of 18 obtained firearms used in the shooting from the home of a parent or close relative.”
All it takes is the knowledge of a loaded gun in the living room, on top of a cabinet in the kitchen, or seemingly ‘hidden’ in a closet or ‘kept safe’ by being stored in an unlocked dresser drawer or under the bed. Many adults believe their children are unaware of the location of these unlocked, unsecured weapons within he home, but this is a dangerous assumption to make.
Can you safely keep a gun in your car?
“Columbia, South Carolina ranks third in the nation for guns stolen out of cars,” said Dr. Ramasamy. “This is not just a national problem, but a concern that is very close to home as well.” There is no reason to believe a firearm left loaded and unlocked in your vehicle is any safer than a firearm left loaded and unlocked within the home.
Over half of stolen guns are taken from vehicles, with cars parked outside of a residence (such as under a carport, in a driveway or in an apartment parking lot rather than a closed and locked garage) being especially vulnerable to gun theft.
What should gun owners do to ensure safety within their home?
“Simply put, a properly stored and secured firearm cannot be used by a child or teen to harm themselves or others,” said Dr. Ramasamy. “Having a gun you simply feel is hidden is not secure storage.”
To safely secure and store firearms, it’s important to lock up all guns and store ammunition separately, as well as ensuring the firearm is unloaded before you store it. There are several different methods and options for safe storage, at plenty of different price points, making it a simple process for individuals who value firearm ownership but still want to ensure safety at home.
Options like cable locks, trigger locks, lock boxes, gun safes and other products all offer increased safety and security at home. You can see some explanations of these different safe gun storage options at Be SMART for Kids, plus watch a demonstration on how to use a gun lock right here, provided by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
“Research shows that secure gun storage saves lives,” said Dr. Ramasamy. “Prisma Health recently gave out 5,000 gun locks to individuals as part of a grant, showcasing how committed we are to whatever we can do to help save lives. This isn’t an issue of politics, but of keeping our most vulnerable household members safe. Normalize talking about gun safety and safe storage with your friends and loved ones. Just a few simple changes to how you store guns at home can prevent a potential tragedy and terrible loss.”
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