Every two hours someone’s child is killed with a loaded gun. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared violence a pubic health hazard, and guns are one of the main causes.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics:
- Firearms are the second leading cause of death for children, teenagers and young adults ages 10-34.
- In 1990, firearms claimed more lives of people aged 15-24 that all natural causes combined.
- Every six hours a teenager commits suicide with a gun.
Other disturbing gun statistics:
- A firearm kept in the home is 43 times more likely to kill friends or family than it is to be used to kill an intruder. – New England Journal of Medicine
- In one year, gunshot wounds cost the nation 14.4 billion dollars. – The Cost of Injury in the U.S. 1989 report to Congress
- More Americans were murdered with firearms between 1988-1991 than were killed in 8.5 years of the Vietnam War. – U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Justice
Every day in America 14 children age 19 and under are killed in gun accidents, suicides and homicides. Thousands more are wounded.
An estimated 1.2 million elementary-aged, latch-key children have access to guns in their homes.
It is estimated that there are guns in more than half of all homes in America.
Gun owners should:
- Keep all guns locked away
- Keep guns and ammunition separated
- Use trigger locks
- Teach children to:
- Never touch a gun
- Tell a grown up if they find one
- When handling a gun:
- Always assume the gun is loaded
- Never point a gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
- If you’re going to shoot, be sure of your target
Above all, be a positive roll model for your child.
Suicide and Guns
In Utah in 1993, 41 people under 19 years of age died from gunshot wounds. The majority of them were suicides.
Suicides are not always reported because of concerns about copycat suicides.
Suicide prevention experts predict that by restricting teenagers’ access to guns, suicides among adolescents could be reduced by 20 percent.
Guns are the most lethal suicide method. Ninety two percent of suicides attempted with guns are completed.
Suicide danger signals include:
- Suicide threats or attempts
- Putting affairs in order
- Personality or behavior changes
- Unstable emotional state
- Major depression
Take every suicidal threat, comment or act seriously. Don’t be afraid to talk to the person about it. Listen. Be calm. Don’t analyze them. Get immediate professional help.
Safe, responsible firearms handling is the most important skill for hunters. Safe habits eliminate most hunting accidents. Nationally, less than 0.1 of 1 percent of hunters have accidents.
- Take hunter education courses
- Always treat guns as if loaded
- Control the direction of the muzzle
- Keep the safety on until ready to shoot
- Be sure the barrel and action are clear
- Use proper size ammunition for the gun
- Be certain of the target before shooting
- Unload the gun when not in use/leave action open
- Carry empty guns in cases
- Avoid all horseplay with guns
- Never climb a fence or tree or jump a ditch or a log carrying a loaded gun
- Never pull a gun by the muzzle
- Never shoot at a flat, hard surface or water
- Wear hunter orange
- Never drink or take drugs and hunt
- Store guns and ammunition separately
Alyssa Mitchell – Health Educator, Summit County Health Department
650 Round Valley Drive, Park City, UT 84060
Phone: 435-333-1508 Fax: 435-333-1580