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Public Health - Seattle & King County

For parents and community members

We all share a role in the safety of our children and community. It is normal for young children to be curious and explore in drawers, cabinets and closets at home and when visiting other houses. They are also fascinated with firearms. Preteens and teens may be attracted to firearms and see firearms as symbols of power. Depressed teens may seek household firearms to attempt suicide. Safe storage practices can reduce the risk of firearms ending up in the wrong hands.

Tips for safe firearm storage

Safe storage of firearms works to protect everyone in the home. Here are suggestions to keep your family and community safer:

  • Store firearms unloaded and locked.
  • To properly store firearms, use a gun safe, gun lock box, a trigger lock or a chamber lock.
  • Store and lock ammunition in a separate place.
  • If your locking device has a key, keep it with you or in a safe place that unauthorized users cannot access.
  • Remove firearms from your home if you have a depressed or suicidal family member or frequent visitor.
  • Ask family and friends to also use these safe storage steps.
Tips for parents
The Impact of Firearms on King County’s Children: 1999 – 2012 coverpage
Download the report:
The Impact of Firearms on King County’s Children: 1999 – 2012

ASK the question: "If you have a firearm in your home, is it stored locked and unloaded?" Before you send your child to someone's house, ask if firearms in the home are stored unloaded and locked. Ask if the ammunition is stored separately. Ask about shotguns and rifles too, not just handguns.

If you have doubts about the safety of someone else's home, invite the children to play at your home instead.

Tips to make asking easier

Many of us feel awkward asking other people how they handle firearm safety. Here are some tips to help:

  • Ask about firearms along with other things you discuss before your child goes to play at someone's home such as seatbelt use, allergies, and animals.
  • Present your concern with respect.
  • Work through groups. Introduce the ASK concept through your child's preschool, childcare, or local PTA.

Finding the right words can be hard. Here's a start:

  • "I don't mean any disrespect, but knowing how curious my child can be, I feel I have to ask this question."
  • "I hope you don't mind me asking if you have a firearm in your home and if it is properly stored."
  • "Mom, Dad, ______, this is awkward for me and I mean no disrespect. I am concerned Susie will find one of the firearms in your home when we visit. Do you keep them locked up with the ammunition stored separately?"

Learn more from the Center to Prevent Youth Violence

Talk with your child:

In addition to storing your firearms locked and unloaded, talk with your children about the risk of firearm injury in places they may visit or play. Teach your child if she or he finds a firearm to leave it alone and tell an adult right away.