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What is “family fire”?

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Every day, eight children (aged 0-17) are unintentionally shot or killed.

The term “family fire” refers to a shooting caused by someone having access to a gun from the home when they should not have access. This includes children as well as those who display behavior that indicates they could harm themselves or others.

In a moment of crisis, safe firearm storage can prevent fatal outcomes, including unintentional shootings, suicides, mass shootings, and firearm misuse.

Unintentional shootings are when a firearm is discharged that was not purposefully fired.

Every day,

91

people are unintentionally shot or killed – including eight children. The most common circumstances in which an unintentional shooting occurs include playing with a firearm (28.3%), believing the firearm was unloaded (17.2%), and hunting (13.8%).

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States with higher rates of gun ownership have an increased risk of fatal unintentional shootings

Research shows that the states with the highest levels of gun ownership experience an unintentional firearm mortality rate 7 times higher than in the states with the lowest levels of gun ownership.

In fact, a 2023 Brady analysis found that on average Texas – which has the highest rate of gun ownership in the country – has the highest number of unintentional shootings on average each year. Meanwhile, Rhode Island – the state with the lowest rate of gun ownership in the country – has the lowest number of unintentional shootings on average each year.

More time at home, combined with easy access to firearms is a deadly combination.


Around major U.S. holidays like Independence Day, New Year's Eve, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, there are more unintentional shooting incidents across all ages and children (aged 0-17) alike. These are times when more time is spent in and around the home.

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The majority of gun deaths are the ones we don’t talk about: suicide. Every day, 67 people die by firearm suicide.

States with the highest rates of household firearm ownership have higher rates of suicide overall than states with the lowest household firearm ownership rates, even though rates of non-firearm suicide are comparable across these states. This does not mean that gun owners are more suicidal. Instead, it is evidence that guns are the most lethal method of suicide.

Compared to other commonly used methods of suicide attempts, firearms are extremely lethal; about 90% of those who attempt suicide with a firearm will not survive. In fact, research shows that access to a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide death by 300%.

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Firearm suicide is on the rise – particularly among children.

A 2023 Brady analysis found that over the past decade, firearm suicide increased by 14% over the past decade, which was largely driven by the growth seen among children (aged 0-17) of color. Between 2012-2021, the firearm suicide rate among children in the U.S. increased by 57%. Meanwhile, the firearm suicide rate among adults increased by only 12%.

Across all age groups, people of color had the largest increases in gun suicide rates. Over the past decade, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic youth experienced a 183% and 141% increase in firearm suicide rates, respectively. At the same time, non-Hispanic white children have experienced a 42% increase in gun suicides.

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Compared to other commonly used methods of suicide attempts, firearms are extreamly lethal; about

90%

of those who attempt suicide with a firearm will not survive. In fact, research shows that access to a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide death by 300%.

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Firearm suicide disproportionately impacts Veterans and service members.

In 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, a total of 6,492 Veterans died by suicide. Every day, 18 veterans die by suicide, and 13 of those 18 veterans (72.2%) die from a self-inflicted firearm injury. While Veterans account for 7% of the U.S. adult population, they account for 24% of the nation’s firearm suicide deaths.

As a group, service members and veterans are uniquely at risk for suicide, partly because they are more likely than their civilian counterparts to have access to firearms, and they have the knowledge and training in how to use them. Nearly half of all veterans own at least one firearm, while about one-third of U.S. adults own a firearm. The availability and lethality of firearms greatly increases the risk of a fatal outcome should someone attempt suicide.

A 2019 survey conducted by Brady and Scoutcomms found that service members and veterans are significantly more impacted by gun violence. Our results found that 46% of current and former service members reported that they have personally been impacted by firearm violence outside of combat. In an open-ended follow-up question, 71% of the qualitative respondents stated that this firearm violence was related to the suicide death of a friend or family member.

IN ORDER TO KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE, GUN OWNERS MUST UTILIZE RESPONSIBLE STORAGE PRACTICES THAT ENSURE FIREARMS ARE KEPT LOCKED AND UNLOADED TO REDUCE THE CHANCE OF FAMILY FIRE.

In the United States, 4.6 million children live in homes with access to an unlocked or unsupervised gun. Despite believing a child may not have access to an irresponsibly stored firearm, children are curious and may still know. Nearly 40% of parents mistakenly believe their children do not know where their firearm is stored in the home. Nearly a quarter of parents mistakenly believe their kids have never handled a gun.

Over half of all gun deaths are suicides. Every day, 67 people die by firearm suicide each day – more than gun homicides and unintentional shootings combined.

The largest share of gun deaths are ones we do not talk about: firearm suicide. Every day, 67 people die by firearm suicide – including two of whom are under 18 years old. More than half of annual gun deaths are gun suicides.

In 2022 alone, about 27,000 people died by firearm suicide – which marked the highest rate of firearm suicide deaths ever documented in the U.S. While non-Hispanic white people experienced the highest rate of firearm suicide, the largest rate increase was observed among American Indian/Alaskan Native people.

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Asking about guns in the home is an important step to prevent family fire.

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Every year, thousands of kids are injured or killed as a result. Parents ask all types of questions before their children visit other homes, so what’s one more question? ASK (Asking Saves Kids) encourages parents, guardians, and caretakers to ask, “Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?” before a playdate or entering into another person’s home.

It’s a simple question, but it could save lives.

In fact, if just 20% more households with children secured all firearms locked and unloaded, fatal unintentional shootings among youth could be reduced up to 32%

By ensuring firearms are stored locked and unloaded, the risk of family fire is reduced significantly.

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