Injury Prevention

Disarming Facts about Firearm Injuries

Handguns are a common consumer product in homes throughout the United States. If not handled and stored carefully, they can cause unintended death or injury.

Firearm injuries are a major cause of premature death and disability in the United States. In 1999, approximately 824 Americans died of unintended gunshot wounds, with the vast majority caused by handguns. On average, 13,688 individuals sustain unintentional nonfatal injuries each year, with almost 60 percent of those caused by handguns.

"We must discharge the myth that owning a gun will make a person safer," said Dr. Arthur Kellermann of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "The fact is, owning a gun greatly increases your risk of becoming a victim of unintentional firearm injuries. Knowing the facts about firearms is the first step toward safety and injury prevention."

Did You Know?

  • In 2002, there were 13,053 children injured by a firearm, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Every six hours, a youth aged 10 to 19 commits suicide with a firearm, according to a 1995 study from the National Center for Health Statistics.
  • More than half of suicides in 2000 were committed with a firearm
  • For young people 15-24 years old, firearm-related suicides accounted for more than 60 percent of the increase in the overall rate of suicide from 1980-1997.
  • More than 40 percent of American households with children have guns in them (Peter Hart Research Associates, "Americans' Attitudes on Children's Access to Guns: A National Poll for Common Sense about Kids and Guns," July 1999.).
  • Two-thirds of students in grades 6 to12 say they could obtain a firearm in 24 hours. (Harvard School of Public Health, cited in The Boston Parent's Paper, August 1999.)

What You Can Do:

  • Understand guns don't solve problems. Studies show carrying a gun or having a gun in your home increases your risk of violent injury or death.
  • Be alert for signs of depression in friends and siblings and encourage them to talk to someone they trust.
  • If you have a gun for protection-turn it in; don't pass it on.
  • If guns are kept in your home, they should always be locked and stored separately from the ammunition.

"Many unintentional shootings may have been prevented by not keeping a gun in the home, promoting safe storage of guns that are kept in the home, promoting safe handling of firearms, and requiring new handguns incorporate basic safety features," said Dr. Kellermann.

Handguns are a common consumer product in homes throughout the United States. If not handled and stored carefully, they can cause unintended death or injury.

Firearm injuries are a major cause of premature death and disability in the United States. In 1999, approximately 824 Americans died of unintended gunshot wounds, with the vast majority caused by handguns. On average, 13,688 individuals sustain unintentional nonfatal injuries each year, with almost 60 percent of those caused by handguns.

"We must discharge the myth that owning a gun will make a person safer," said Dr. Arthur Kellermann of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "The fact is, owning a gun greatly increases your risk of becoming a victim of unintentional firearm injuries. Knowing the facts about firearms is the first step toward safety and injury prevention."

Did You Know?

  • In 2002, there were 13,053 children injured by a firearm, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Every six hours, a youth aged 10 to 19 commits suicide with a firearm, according to a 1995 study from the National Center for Health Statistics.
  • More than half of suicides in 2000 were committed with a firearm
  • For young people 15-24 years old, firearm-related suicides accounted for more than 60 percent of the increase in the overall rate of suicide from 1980-1997.
  • More than 40 percent of American households with children have guns in them (Peter Hart Research Associates, "Americans' Attitudes on Children's Access to Guns: A National Poll for Common Sense about Kids and Guns," July 1999.).
  • Two-thirds of students in grades 6 to12 say they could obtain a firearm in 24 hours. (Harvard School of Public Health, cited in The Boston Parent's Paper, August 1999.)

What You Can Do:

  • Understand guns don't solve problems. Studies show carrying a gun or having a gun in your home increases your risk of violent injury or death.
  • Be alert for signs of depression in friends and siblings and encourage them to talk to someone they trust.
  • If you have a gun for protection-turn it in; don't pass it on.
  • If guns are kept in your home, they should always be locked and stored separately from the ammunition.

"Many unintentional shootings may have been prevented by not keeping a gun in the home, promoting safe storage of guns that are kept in the home, promoting safe handling of firearms, and requiring new handguns incorporate basic safety features," said Dr. Kellermann.


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