HAVING A FIREARM IN THE HOME can be a significant risk factor for injury or death, especially in children. It is estimated that there are guns in half the homes in the United States.

Between 2005 to 2009 in Washington State:

  • 1,483 people, including 164 children and youth (age 17 or younger), were hospitalized for firearm-related injuries
  • 2,763 people, including 94 children and youth, died as a result of firearms

Every seven and a half hours a child or teen is killed by a gun, either by accident or suicide.

The decision to keep a gun in the home is very serious. If you choose to keep a gun, carefully consider the risks to your family and others who visit your home.

Teach Safe Firearm Habits Early

Parent perceptions of their children's behavior with firearms do not predict actual behavior. One study with boys revealed that despite parent estimates of their child's interest or likelihood to play with a real handgun, children estimated to have 'low interest' were as likely to pull the trigger as children perceived to have 'moderate to high interest'. Another study revealed that parents living in homes with firearms who reported their children had never handled a firearm in their homes were contradicted by their child's self-report.

Because children act on their curiosities, it is crucial to teach safe firearm habits early and often. Teach kids to follow these rules if they come into contact with a gun:     

  • stop
  • don't touch
  • remove yourself from the area
  • tell an adult
  • guns are not toys

It's particularly important that children leave the area where the gun is located to avoid being harmed by someone who doesn't know not to touch it. A child as young as 3 has the finger strength to pull a trigger.


Help keep firearms out of the hands of our children and teens by taking these important precautions:

  • Always remove ammunition from guns
  • Secure unloaded guns with a trigger lock, alarm or other type of tamper-proof device
  • Store unloaded guns in a gun cabinet, safe or locked gun vault
  • Lock and store ammunition separately, out of sight and reach of children
  • Keep gun storage keys away from the 'everyday' keys

Do You Need A Gun Lock?

Project Childsafe, a nationwide program that helps ensure safe and responsible firearm ownership and storage, partners with many law enforcement agencies to provide free safety kits to their communities. The kits include a cable-style gun lock.

Contact the following local agencies to obtain your free kit.


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