What is "Family Fire?"
Family fire is a shooting involving an improperly stored or misused gun found in the home that results in death or injury. Unintentional shootings, suicides, and intentional shootings are all forms of family fire. These tragedies are preventable.
Why is Family Fire an Issue?
Every year in the United States, 35,000 people are killed and 90,000 people are injured by gun violence. Family fire accounts for a majority of these terrible tragedies.
- Every day, 8 children and teens are unintentionally injured or killed due to family fire.
- 4.6 million children live in homes with access to an unlocked or unsupervised gun.
- 1 in 5 kids has handled a gun when an adult wasn’t around.
- 75 percent of kids know where a gun is stored in their home.
- 51 percent of all suicides are by firearm and 60 percent of all gun deaths are by suicide.
- Access to a gun increases the risk of death by suicide by 300 percent.
- 75 percent of school shootings are facilitated by kids having access to unsecured and/or unsupervised guns at home.
HOW YOU CAN HELP END FAMILY FIRE
There are easy, everyday steps that each of us can take to prevent tragedies stemming from unsecured and/or unsupervised guns at home. Our solutions are around four key pillars: Ask, Act, Talk, and Learn.
Ask family, friends, and community members about access to an unlocked and/or loaded guns in the home. “Is there an unlocked gun in your home?” It’s a simple question, but it has the power to save one’s life.
Parents and guardians ask all sorts of questions before they allow their children to visit other homes. They ask about pets in the house, discuss allergies and internet access, and ask questions about supervision. Why not also ask about access to guns in the home? As life events change, there may be more circumstances where one needs to ask this question. For example:
- Teens taking their first babysitting job: “Is there an unlocked and/or loaded gun in your home?”
- Older teens and young adults moving into their first group home: “Does anyone own a gun? If so, how is it stored?”
- When a family needs to take in and care for an elder family member, especially those who may suffer from a form of dementia: “Will the safety measures we use to protect our kids from accessing guns also work in this situation? Do we need to rethink how we safely store the guns?”
Act responsibly and always store your own guns locked, unloaded, and out of reach from children and those who should not have access to firearms.
From gun locks to gun safes, there are a variety of effective safety options suited for both gun and home. Here are key tips for ensuring safe gun storage in your home.
- Always store guns locked, unloaded, and out of children’s reach.
- Consider offsite gun storage options in your area.
- Always store ammunition separately from its gun. This reduces the risk of family fire up to 61 percent.
- Always transport the gun locked inside a cool, clean, dry carrying case or storage box. These should always have numerical combinations or fingerprint recognition locks.
- Have ongoing conversations with family and friends about responsible gun ownership and gun safety.
- If you are not confident or have doubts about gun ownership, consider other home protection alternatives, such as home security systems, alarms, and guard dogs.
- Ensure these safety measures are followed in the home as well as wherever you may travel with the gun, such as hotels, vacation homes, and automobiles.
Talk with your family, friends, and community about responsible gun ownership. Having regular conversations about gun safety with those close to you reduces the chance of family fire incidents.
- Gun owners, in particular, can play a powerful role in educating others about the risk of family fire. We highly encourage gun owners to help end family fire incidents by educating friends, family, and members of their community on responsible gun ownership.
- Ensure that guns are apart of your family’s safety conversations and consider how these conversations need to change as your family grows and evolves.
Learn about safe gun storage options and local gun safety policy measures — like extreme risk laws — which help reduce the risk of family fire.
Local police departments are a great first resource to learn about community programs. There also may be policy options available in your community which help reduce the risk of family fire, such as these:
- Child Access Prevention Laws hold gun owners accountable for the safe storage of firearms, imposing liability for failing to take simple yet important measures to prevent guns from falling into young hands.
- Safe Storage Laws promote responsible gun-owning practices by requiring gun owners to keep their firearms out of the reach of others, such as children or prohibited persons, who could use the weapon to deadly effect
Extreme Risk Laws provide family, intimate partners, household members, law enforcement officials, and — in some cases — healthcare professionals a safe and effective way of removing access to firearms from individuals at risk of harming themselves or others. Extreme risk laws are civil court orders that enable guns to be temporarily removed from the home, and further purchases prevented.