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Given Continued Surge in Gun Background Checks, Brady Calls for Attention to Safe Storage Practices to Prevent Family Fire

Washington, D.C., May 4, 2020 - Today, following the release of the latest data from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) showing that background checks in April were up nearly 25 percent above April 2019, Brady urges continued attention to safe storage practices. Safe storage is a proven and essential tool to prevent family fire, which includes unintentional shootings and suicides.

According to the FBI’s NICS data, there were 2,911,128 background checks initiated in April 2020. This increase follows the unprecedented surge in background checks in March 2020, where there were 3,740,688 initiated nationwide, a 41 percent increase over March 2019 and the highest number of background checks initiated in a single month since the FBI’s NICS system was created in 1998.

Brady President Kris Brown shared:

“The number of background checks performed in April shows that across the country large numbers of Americans have continued to purchase firearms likely because of fear caused by the coronavirus pandemic and that there are millions of new guns in homes across the country.

With this reality, it is essential that all gun owners, particularly new gun owners, adhere to safe storage practices. Ensuring that guns are stored properly, meaning locked, unloaded, with ammunition stored separately, is a proven way to prevent unintentional shootings, part of what’s known as ‘family fire.’ Approximately 478 people die every year from unintentional shootings, while eight children and teens are killed or injured by unintentional shootings every day. Right now, with tens of millions of school-age children at home due to the pandemic, that risk is especially acute.

We are all dealing with extreme stress and uncertainty from this pandemic. During this time it is especially essential to recognize the link between guns in the home and a lethal outcome in a suicide attempt, and ensure we are all implementing proven solutions to save lives. In April, texts to the federal government’s disaster distress hotline increased by more than 1,000 percent over April 2019. We know that access to a firearm increases the risk of a fatal outcome in a suicide attempt by 300 percent. Locking firearms securely provides a needed barrier and time for an individual in crisis to seek help and reduces the likelihood of what is often a temporary crisis becoming a permanent tragedy.

Outside of the home, it is a sad reality that many communities continue to face the threat of gun violence every day, despite stay-at-home orders and other social-distancing precautions. That shootings continue during this crisis, putting further strain on our health systems as they attempt to treat victims of coronavirus, shows the pressing need for our nation to address gun violence. It begs the question of what will happen to these weapons when this pandemic is over and how cities, states and the federal government will work to stop this uniquely American epidemic when this pandemic is over.”

Facts About Gun Ownership in America:

According to Pew Research, two thirds of gun owners in the United States say protection is a major reason why they own a firearm. Pew’s survey shows that:

  • 67 percent of gun owners cited protection as a major reason why they own a firearm
  • 38 percent of gun owners cited hunting as a major reason why they own a firearm
    • 48 percent of rural gun owners cited hunting as a major reason why they own a firearm compared to 34 percent of suburban gun owners and 27 percent of urban gun owners
  • 30 percent cited sport shooting as a major reason why they own a firearm
  • 13 percent cited gun collecting as a major reason why they own a firearm
  • 8 percent cited their jobs as a major reason why they own a firearm

Facts About Unintentional Shootings:

  • Every day, 8 children and teens are unintentionally injured or killed due to an unlocked or unsupervised gun in the home.
  • 4.6 million children live in homes with access to an unlocked or unsupervised gun.
  • A relatively modest increase in safe storage — locking all household firearms — could reduce firearm suicide and unintentional firearm fatalities among youth by up to 32%.
  • Keeping guns locked and unloaded reduces the risk of unintentional shooting deaths and gun suicides among youth by 73 percent.

Facts About Guns and Suicide Lethality:

  • Access to a gun in the home increases the risk of death by suicide by 300 percent.
  • There were 24,432 deaths by suicide using a firearm in 2018.
  • Suicide by firearm constitutes not only the majority of suicide deaths , but also the majority of gun deaths in the United States.
  • For minors who have used a firearm in a suicide attempt, 82 percent used a firearm belonging to a family member, and 64 percent of those guns were stored unlocked.
  • While less than 10 percent of all suicidal attempts are fatal, 90 percent of those involving a firearm end in death.
  • Gun owners who stored their firearms locked or unloaded were at least 60 percent less likely to die from firearm related suicide than owners who store their firearms unlocked and/or loaded.

For mental health resources during this pandemic, please visit the Pandemic Crisis Services Response Coalition: https://www.covidmentalhealthsupport.org

For those in crisis, help is available no matter what you are going through today. Please call the free and confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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