Today, Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx urged adults to securely store any firearms in order to keep guns out of the hands of children and teens and prevent unintentional shootings and gun suicides. While responsible gun owners must always store their guns locked, unloaded, and separately from ammunition, it is even more important right now with families sheltering at home.
“Ensuring public safety includes protecting people within the walls of their own home,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. “Kids are curious and often know where guns are stored. It is the critical responsibility of adults to keep firearms locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition, especially with children and teenagers in the house during the pandemic.”
Unloaded firearms should be secured with a firearm locking device, and ammunition should be stored separately from the firearm in a secure location.
Since 2015, there have been at least 1,709 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 629 deaths and 1,125 injuries nationwide. Annually, nearly 350 children under the age of 18 gain access to a firearm and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else. In addition, more than 600 children die by gun suicide every year.
An estimated 13 million households with children in the U.S. have at least one gun. Not all of these firearms are stored securely, with approximately 4.6 million children living in a household with at least one gun that is stored loaded and unlocked.
Research indicates that secure gun storage practices, including storing guns locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition, are associated with reduced rates of child firearm suicide. One study showed that households that locked both firearms and ammunition had a 78 percent lower risk of self-inflicted firearm injuries among children and teenagers.
"At a time of unprecedented fear, stress, and uncertainty, I worry about the 4.6 million children in this country who are sheltering in homes with unsecured firearms,” said Moms Demand Action Local Group Lead Jenna Leving Jacobson, PhD. “Access to guns only increases the chances of suicide and unintentional shootings by firearm. This is a moment when we might feel like there is so little that we can control, but we can prevent tragedy by practicing safe gun storage.”
Volunteers with the Illinois chapter of Moms Demand Action have advocated for the Be SMART program in their local communities since 2015. By inspiring a series of conversations about secure gun storage, Be SMART helps adults learn about the simple steps that everyone—gun owners and non-gun owners alike—can take to prevent both unintentional shootings by children and teen suicide. For more information about secure storage of firearms, visit https://besmartforkids.org/