Injury and Violence Prevention Branch

Firearm Safety Awareness and Education

4.6 million children live in homes where guns are unlocked and loaded This page is dedicated to providing data on firearm-related injuries and death in North Carolina, information about firearm safe storage and how this protects children and youth from firearm-related deaths and injuries, and resources and tools that individuals and communities can use.

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  The Importance of Firearm Safe Storage

Safe storage of firearms reduces unintentional death, injury, and hospitalization. Additionally, when firearms are stored safely, they are less available as a means of suicide or intentional harm to others. This is especially true for children and youth.

Reduce Death, Injury, Hospitalization to Children and Youth

Children are naturally curious and seek to learn about their environment through touch and play. Unfortunately, when a child or children find an unlocked and loaded firearm, they can unintentionally hurt themselves or someone else nearby. Keeping firearms unloaded and locked away using a cable lock or placing them in lock boxes or gun safes can prevent injuries and death resulting from curiosity and play.

Reduce Suicide

"Many suicide attempts are hastily decided-upon and involve little or no planning. The particular means chosen for a suicide attempt may determine whether one who attempts suicide lives or dies. Access to firearms is a risk factor for suicide. 90% of those who attempt suicide and survive do not go on to die by suicide later. Firearms used in youth suicide usually belong to a parent. Reducing access to lethal means saves lives. (Means Matter)" 1

Nine out of 10 suicide attempts using a firearm are lethal.2

Reduce Violence

Safe firearm storage can also prevent children and youth from accessing firearms and using them to injure or kill others.

  NC Safe Storage Law

The North Carolina law that concerns safe storage of firearms is §14-315.1. This law is referred to as the NC Safe Storage Law and states:

§ 14-315.1. Storage of firearms to protect minors.

(a) Any person who resides in the same premises as a minor, owns or possesses a firearm, and stores or leaves the firearm (i) in a condition that the firearm can be discharged and (ii) in a manner that the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised minor would be able to gain access to the firearm, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if a minor gains access to the firearm without the lawful permission of the minor's parents or a person having charge of the minor and the minor:

(1) Possesses it in violation of G.S. 14-269.2(b);
(2) Exhibits it in a public place in a careless, angry, or threatening manner;
(3) Causes personal injury or death with it not in self defense; or
(4) Uses it in the commission of a crime.

(b) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a person from carrying a firearm on his or her body, or placed in such close proximity that it can be used as easily and quickly as if carried on the body.

(c) This section shall not apply if the minor obtained the firearm as a result of an unlawful entry by any person.

(d) "Minor" as used in this section means a person under 18 years of age who is not emancipated. (1993, c. 558, s. 2; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 14, s. 11.)

What does the law mean?

Gun owners who live with a person under the age of 18 (a minor) must make sure that the minor does not gain access to the firearm. This law speaks to the need to safely store firearms to avoid injury and death.

  Data on Firearm-Related Deaths and Injuries

Overall Data on Firearm-Related Deaths and Injuries in North Carolina

Firearm-Related Deaths

Firearm Death Rates by Sex, Age, and Race: NC-VDRS 2017 Firearm-Related Deaths by Manner and Firearm Type: NC-VDRS 2017

Firearm-Related Hospitalizations

Firearm-Related Hospitalization Rates per 100,000 in NC, all ages (2016-2018)

Firearm-Related Emergency Department Visits

Firearm-Related Emergency Department Visits per 100,000 in NC, all ages (2016-2018)

Data on Firearm-Related Deaths and Injuries to Children and Youth in North Carolina

Firearm-Related Deaths

Firearm-Related Mortality Rates, Children 0-17, 2009-2018 Deaths by Manner/Intent: Resident and Occurrence Deaths; Age 0-17, 2004-2018 Firearm-Related Deaths by Manner and Firearm Type, ages 0-17

Suicide

NC Resident Suicide Mortality Rates, Ages 10-17: 1999-2018 Firearm Suicides, Percent of Circumstances: NC VDRS, age 0-17, 2016-2017

Homicide

Firearm-Related Homicide: Percent of Circumstances for age 0-17: NC VDRS, 2016-2017

Firearm-Related Hospitalizations

Firearm-Related Hospitalization (0-17) Rates, 2016-2018 Primary Payer Information for Firearm-Related Hospitalizations (0-17), 2016-2018 Firearm-Related Hospitalization (0-17) Charges, 2016-2018

Firearm-Related Emergency Department Visits

Firearm-Related ED Visits among NC Residents Ages 17 and Younger, 2016-2018

For more information, please see the presentation Firearm Deaths and Injuries among Youth in North Carolina (PDF, 1.4 MB).

Data on Safe Storage of Firearms in North Carolina

U.S. Firearm Safe Storage Data

4.6 million children live in homes where guns are unlocked and loaded

NC Firearm Safe Storage Data

Percent of NC Residents with Firearm Storage Practices (not in gun cabinet, no trigger or cable lock): NC BRFSS, 2011 Percent of NC Parents Firearm Practices (not in gun cabinet, no trigger or cable lock); NC CHAMP (ages 0-17), 2011

Guns used in American mass school shootings often come from home.3

For More Information

  How to Obtain a Free or Discounted Gun Lock

If you would like to receive a Safety Kit which includes a free cable-style gun lock and safety instructions, please contact the Project ChildSafe affiliated department or office closest to your home.

  A Toolkit for Communities to Use for Firearm Safety Education and Awareness

The following is a guide and supporting materials to help you create a gun safety team in your community, a crucial first step to local firearm safety education and awareness. Thank you to the Durham County Gun Safety Team for making these excellent resources available to the public.

  Additional Resources

There are many issues related to firearm safety; here are some categories and resources to help.

NC Child Fatality Task Force, Firearm Safety Stakeholders' Group

In 2017, a diverse group of stakeholders interested in keeping children and youth safe met to discuss ways to promote safe storage of firearms.

Hunter Education

Suicide Prevention

Domestic Violence

Other Resources


References

Last Modified: February 13, 2020