As a member of the armed forces, your service member has received firearms training, including how to safely handle and store a weapon. Gun safety is always worth talking about, especially when there is a firearm in the home. Having a candid conversation about gun safety in the home can get everyone on the same page, bring peace of mind and prevent a tragedy.
Facts about gun safety
Everyone plays a role in ensuring safe, secure and ready military communities. Do your part by safely and securely storing your firearms at home. No matter how safety conscious you and your service member are, accidents can happen. When a firearm is involved, the consequences can be dire, as the following facts show:
- Access to a firearm greatly increases the risk of death from domestic violence or suicide.
- Firearms are the second-leading cause of death among American children. Even a 3-year-old can pull the trigger of an unlocked gun.
- Suicides by firearm have increased by more than 200% by 10-14 year olds over the past decade.
Storing guns safely
A gun in the wrong hands can lead to unintentional shootings, suicide and homicide. Children are particularly at risk when there is a gun in the home, but an adult who is going through a tough time and knows how to access a gun can also be a danger to themselves or others. Take the following precautions with any gun in the home:
- Never leave a gun unattended.
- Unload firearms when not in use. Remove all ammunition from the firearm, including any rounds in the chamber.
- Keep the firearm locked. Secure firearms with cable locks and store in a lockable safe.
- Store ammunition in a lockbox or safe separately from firearms. Keep the keys to the firearms and ammunition storage in separate locations.
- Talk with children about what to do if they see a gun. Make sure they know not to touch it, but to tell you or another responsible adult.
Handling guns safely
Proper gun handling helps keep everyone safe. If your service member or another loved one owns a gun, ask them about the precautions they take when using it. Some states require individuals to take a home firearm safety course before purchasing a gun. You or your loved one can find and take gun safety courses locally, particularly if neither of you has received that type of training.
Be aware that anyone who handles a firearm should take the following precautions:
- Keep the gun unloaded and locked until you’re in a safe place to clean or use it.
- Read the firearm’s manual before using it, or perhaps before purchasing it. Know how to safely open and close the action and safely remove ammunition from the gun or magazine.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
- Make sure the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction. Always check that no one will be injured if the gun accidentally discharges.
Even if you are familiar with gun safety practices in the home, others may benefit from this information. Share this article to help keep others safe and informed.