I kind of cringe whenever I see the words “gun safety” in a headline.
It’s not that I think safety is unimportant when it comes to firearms, either. I think we can all agree that the safe handling and storage of guns are of paramount importance. The consequences of a lapse can be catastrophic, to say the least.
But the term “gun safety” has been misappropriated by anti-gun zealots who often use it to try and twist the debate. They want gun control, but they know that people balk when they hear that term, so they try to misdirect.
Yet actual “gun safety” is still a very real thing, and a task force in North Carolina is seeking funding to undertake efforts to promote it.
After the Raleigh mass shooting last month that took five lives, “the topic of gun violence is unfortunately foremost in the minds of many of us,” said Kella Hatcher, executive director of the state’s Child Fatality Task Force, at a meeting of the group earlier this month.
The task force passed a recommendation at the meeting on firearm safety initiatives aimed at decreasing minors’ access to guns. Hatcher and William Lassiter, deputy secretary of the Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, presented data indicating why the initiatives are needed:
There were 116 children under age 17 who died from firearm-related injuries in 2021. From 2012 to 2021, more than 600 children have died from firearm-related injuries. More than half of children who died by suicide in 2020 and 2021 used firearms to do so. Juvenile crime related to firearm possession has gone from 4% of all juvenile crime reports in 2017 to 13% in 2021.
“Although it’s going to take multiple prevention strategies to really make a difference here, one thing we know will make a difference and that many can agree on, and that this task force has agreed on repeatedly, is getting gun owners to safely store their guns,” Hatcher said.
Now, let’s be clear, people safely storing their firearms won’t make the problems disappear entirely. There’s a lot more going on than just gun storage.
However, it’s a step that we can and should take because it will save a number of lives. The above-linked story includes a citation from a study that argues up to 32 percent of youth suicides could be prevented with proper storage of guns.
Now, I’m not sure how accurate those numbers are–and there’s a pretty wide range they give, to be fair–but it’ll help some, at least. Sure, some of those will just find another way to take their own life, but not all will.
This is meaningful gun safety. This is the actual kind of safety we should be talking about, and it’s the kind of thing that can make a real difference. Especially since it’ll also prevent stolen guns, which are also used to claim a lot of lives each and every year.
Moreover, this doesn’t try to equate the idea of your gun rights being the opposite of “safety.” This is just good, actual common sense that also has the benefit of protecting your property from theft.