Injury and Violence Prevention Branch
Firearm Safety Awareness and Education
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.
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.
"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
Safe firearm storage can also prevent children and youth from accessing firearms and using them to injure or kill others.
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:
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.
Overall Data on Firearm-Related Deaths and Injuries in North Carolina
Firearm-Related Emergency Department Visits
- For more information, please see the presentation Firearm Deaths and Injuries among Youth in North Carolina (PDF, 1.4 MB).
Data on Firearm-Related Deaths and Injuries to Children and Youth in North Carolina
Firearm-Related Emergency Department Visits
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
NC Firearm Safe Storage Data
Guns used in American mass school shootings often come from home.3
For More Information
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.
- Creating a Gun Safety Team Implementation Guide (PDF, 5.5 MB)
- Creating a Gun Safety Team PowerPoint Presentation (PDF, 216 KB)
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.
- Report and Recommendations
- Firearm Safety Fact Sheet
- Data from the NC Violent Death Reporting System (NC VDRS)
- Hunting Checklist for Families
- The Hunter Education Program of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission provides free hunter education courses throughout the year in every county.
- If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center
- Suicide Prevention: A Role for Firearm Dealers and Range Owners (New Hampshire Gun Shop Project)
- North Carolinians Against Gun Violence (NCGV) is a nonprofit dedicated to reducing gun death and injury.
- Project ChildSafe is a program to promote firearms safety and education and a source of free cable-style gun locks.
- Means Matter is a campaign to increase the proportion of suicide prevention groups who promote activities that reduce a suicidal person’s access to lethal means of suicide.
- Association of Increased Safe Household Firearm Storage with Firearm Suicide and Unintentional Death Among US Youths
- Limiting Access to Firearms as a Suicide Prevention Strategy Among Adults
- Home Gun Safety Queries in Well-Child Visits
- What is Safe Household Firearm Storage to Prevent Deaths Among US Youths?
- 1 Means Matter website from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/.
- 2 Means Matter website from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/.
- 3 Hobbs, Tawnell D. (April 5, 2018). "Most Guns Used in School Shootings Come from Home," Wall Street Journal.
Last Modified: February 13, 2020