Practice Gun Safety
In the United States, nearly 40% of homes with children have a gun. Tragically, guns kill or disable a child under age 10 every other day.
In Washington state, about 19 children are killed and 30 are hospitalized due to firearm injuries every year.
Children as young as 3 years old may be strong enough to pull a trigger. Families who choose to have guns in the home must use and store them safely. The tips below can help you practice safe gun storage in your home and encourage others to do the same.
Tips for Safe Firearm Storage
- Keep guns unloaded, out of reach and locked — store in a gun safe or lock box or use a trigger lock.
- Lock all ammunition in a separate location from the firearm.
- Hide the keys to all lock boxes.
- When a gun is unlocked, keep it in your sight at all times.
- Teach your children to stay away from guns, but do not rely on them to do so.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to the caregivers of your child’s friends about gun safety and storage—ask “Are there guns in your home?” and “How are they stored?”
- Consult with local law enforcement to safely dispose of guns you no longer want—there are strict laws governing transfer of gun ownership.
Options for Safe Gun Storage
Gun storage is a basic child safety issue, akin to safely storing medicine and household poisons, using car seats and wearing bike helmets. Explore the options below for safely storing firearms.
Gun safe or vault. Large sizes are available to accommodate rifles, multiple weapons and other valuables. The size and weight of this option makes it difficult to steal. Cost ranges from $100 to more than $2,000.
Lockbox. Smaller than a safe, a lockbox still ensures handguns are inaccessible to children, when used correctly. The locking mechanism may include a key, personalized code, or fingerprint sensor. Many lockboxes can be bolted to the floor, making them difficult to steal. Cost ranges from $40 to $200.
Trigger lock. This device is installed on your gun to make the trigger inoperable while locked. Teenagers and older children may be able to unlock or disable it. Most cost less than $40.
Cable lock. This device is looped through the gun chamber to prevent the gun from firing. However, some cables are thin and can be cut. Most cost less than $20.
You can learn more about safe gun storage by visiting Lokitup.org, King County Public Health’s Safe Storage Saves Lives campaign, or California’s Department of Justice helpful roster of certified firearm safety devices.