Why I Support Safe Storage Laws
It’s no secret that gun violence is at the forefront of today’s politics and culture as students join the fight to eliminate it. Many gun violence prevention groups are pushing for criminal background checks, keeping guns out of sensitive places, keeping guns off campus and more; but one policy that is brought up fairly often is safe storage.
Safe storage laws would enforce gun owners to properly supply the gun(s) in their household so they and only they can access them. This is important because research done by Everytown for Gun Safety shows that 500 gun deaths per year and 17,737 gun injuries per year are unintentional. Unintentional shootings happen when someone gains access to a gun that does not belong to them and injures themselves or others unthinkingly. Many of these cases regard young children who find the firearm of a parent or guardian and mishandle it, not knowing of the potential deadly consequences. Safe storage laws could protect hundreds and thousands of Americans; and for the majority (including gun owners and NRA members), this law is a non-starter.
But safe storage laws don’t only prevent unintentional shootings. They could greatly reduce suicide rates in America. 22,000 Americans commit suicide using a firearm per year, making up nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in America. Many people counter that suicidal individuals will simply use a different method to commit, but the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states that firearms account for more than half of all suicides in America. This is not a coincidence; this is because one is less likely to succeed with any other method. Safe storage laws would prohibit these people from having access to guns if they do not belong to them, hence decreasing suicide in America as a whole.
Safe storage laws can even prevent school shootings. As seen with most high-profile cases, the suspect is often a student who gains access to guns belonging to a family member who is of age to handle them. However, safe storage laws would obviously prevent that. School shootings remain a smaller demographic in the conversation of gun violence, but we as Americans must do everything we can to keep it that way until we can eliminate them. And safe storage laws could be the answer.
With all this new information about safe storage, it’s important to know where you can channel it. The first step to enacting change on a policy-level is making your legislators aware of their constituents’ concern about unintentional shootings, firearm suicides, and school shootings. This can be done by calling, emailing, sending letters, lobbying, and even Tweeting at your lawmakers! Following up is even more important, as legislators must be held accountable to ensure that they are meeting the needs of the people they serve. Attend public hearings of proposals and bills to make your voice heard and demand that those in power make a change. If we commit to being civically engaged, we can work together to expunge this epidemic that is sweeping the nation at an alarming rate.