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March 25, 2010

Preventing Fatal Firearms Accidents

The firearm safety expert quoted in this unfortunate story about a youth who was fatally shot by another youth with a BB gun gets it right when he says, "The cardinal rule of gun safety is that you never ever, ever, point a gun at anybody, even if you think it's loaded or not loaded." In other words, always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

On the topic of firearm safety in the home, however, the story incorrectly states that a gun in the home is more likely to do harm to the gun owner or family member than to protect the family. This is false, as Dr. Gary Kleck and others have shown in their research on defensive gun uses, which includes brandishing a firearm to ward of intruders or attackers, something that happens as much as 1.5 to 2 million times annually.

It is appropriate for children to use BB guns and firearms under adult supervision. Teaching children the three basic rules of firearm safety–always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, treat every firearm as if it were loaded and keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire–and making sure children follow them should be a priority for parents. Also, part of responsible firearms ownership is to make sure guns are properly stored so that unsupervised children or unauthorized persons cannot access them.

Fatal firearms accidents are at an all-time low, with fatalities involving youth 14 and under down by 60 percent over the last ten years. It is truly a tragedy when a life is lost as a result of a firearm-related accident because nearly every accident can be prevented  by following the basic safety rules and by safely storing firearms in the home.

NSSF can help get the firearm safety message out in your community. Through its Project ChildSafe program, NSSF makes firearm safety kits that include a gun locking device and safety literature available to any law enforcement agency, free of charge, for distribution to firearms owners. See NSSF also makes available to schools, free of charge, age-appropriate videos that teach firearm safety to students. To see all of NSSF's firearm safety resources, go to

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Categories: Education, Safety