Put a Lock on Firearm Safety

June 03, 2024

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This statistic may surprise you: There are more firearms than people in the United States.

As of May 2024, the U.S. population reached roughly 336 million people. But the number of firearms topped 393 million in 2023.

According to national statistics, more than 48,000 Americans die each year from some type of firearm violence. That’s nearly 120 people a day. Whether it’s for protection or for hunting, approximately four in 10 Americans report that they live in a house with a firearm. So, practicing good firearm safety is critical.

Fortunately, securing a firearm only takes a few simple steps. And Memorial Healthcare System is committed to helping our communities improve firearm safety and reduce firearm-related violence. To reach this goal, we’re holding a Wear Orange Firearm Safety event June 7-9, 2024.

“So far this year, more than 5,300 people have died by gunshot wound in the United States. Many of these deaths have happened in Florida,” says Candace M. Pineda, MBA, BSN, RN, TCRN, senior director of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. “Gunshots are the leading cause of death among children and teens. At Memorial, we’re dedicated to improving education around firearm safety and providing resources that can reduce danger.”

Pineda is also the Advanced Trauma Life Support clinical coordinator at Memorial Regional Hospital and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

The Risk of Unsecured Firearms

firearm safety U.S. statistics

Having an unsecured firearm in the house increases the risk of firearm injuries and intentional shootings like suicides. The threat can be especially high to kids who may be unfamiliar with firearms or proper firearm safety.

According to existing research, at least 4.6 million kids live in a house with at least one unlocked firearm.

Nearly 20,000 children and teens are shot every year. In many cases, these tragedies happen because they have easy access to unlocked firearms.

Practice Good Firearm Safety

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But you can take measures to reduce these risks if you have a firearm at home. Secure storage lowers the likelihood of firearm-related incidents. It can also decrease the risk of suicide for people in crisis.

You can practice good firearm safety and protect your loved ones with a few simple steps:

  • Avoid keeping your firearm anywhere in your car, including your glove compartment.
  • Store your firearm locked and unloaded.
  • Lock and store ammunition in a location separate from your firearm.
  • Make sure the key or safe combination isn’t accessible to someone in crisis.

More Tips for At-Home Firearm Safety

You can go even further to reduce the risk of firearm-related injuries.These steps include:

  • Keep firearms out of sight: Store firearms where people in your house can’t see them. Consider a cabinet or a safe. Don’t keep them in drawers or on nightstands.

  • Discuss firearm safety: Have an open conversation about firearm safety with everyone living in your house. Be sure to explain the difference between real and fake or toy firearms and answer any questions.

  • Explain how to respond: Teach your family to move away and not touch a firearm if they encounter one.

  • Dispose of unnecessary firearms: Don’t keep a firearm you no longer use or need. Many cities hold firearm buy-back events.

Ask about Firearms

Even if you don’t have a firearm in your home, ask your friends, family or acquaintances if they do — especially if your child will be in their house.

It’s easy to introduce the subject of firearm safety into conversation. You can:

  • Include your question about firearms in other inquiries about pets or specific house rules.
  • Mention someone recently asked you if you have a firearm at home, then pose the same question.
  • Share that your doctor or pediatrician warned about the risks of unsecured firearms.

Remember, asking about firearms is a matter of safety. You wouldn’t hesitate to discuss peanut exposure if your child had a peanut allergy. It’s equally important to know if your child will have access to an unsecured firearm.

Join Us, #WearOrange and Grab a Lock

Memorial Healthcare wants to be your partner in reducing firearm-related injuries and deaths. That’s why the hospital is participating in #WearOrange between June 7-9. This nationwide initiative is dedicated to increasing education and awareness around firearm safety. Each year, participants wear orange — the color hunters wear to protect themselves in the woods.

In addition to wearing orange throughout the event, you can get a free firearm lock by sending an email to traumaeducation@mhs.net or at the following Memorial Healthcare System facilities:

Help keep your home and community safe. Join Memorial Healthcare and Lock Your Firearms!