In their rush to condemn guns and gun owners, the mainstream media has overlooked—intentionally or otherwise—a critical statistic regarding firearms-related deaths. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control, accidental firearms deaths dropped by 24 percent from 2006 to 2015. Firearms are involved in less than 1 percent of all fatal accidents in the United States, and the current number of firearms accidents, per capita, is the lowest it has been since record keeping began in the early 1900s.
Part of that decrease in gun deaths can likely be attributed to improvements in manufacturing technology, but there’s little doubt that the driving force behind the reduction of accidental firearms deaths is that shooters now have the insight and the tools they need to keep their firearms safely secured. For that you should all applaud Project ChildSafe.
Founded in 1999 by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Project ChildSafe (ProjectChildSafe.org) is a 501c(3) non-profit that serves two primary functions for firearms owners. First, the organization offers firearms safety kits that include informational brochures on safe gun storage and firearm cable locks through more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies. More than 37 million firearms safety kits have been handed out—free of charge—to firearms owners in 55 U.S. states and territories, the total value of which is an estimated $74 million dollars.
To date, gun manufacturers have included more than 70 million free gun locks with the purchase of new firearms. More than 3,800 retail stores, conservation groups, hunting clubs and firearms instructors have joined together with Project ChildSafe, and in 2015 the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded the organization a $2.4 million dollar grant to continue efforts to reduce accidental firearms deaths.
In addition to safety kits, Project ChildSafe also offers a number of online resources for guns owners and firearms instructors. There are articles and infographics that help promote responsible gun storage practices, links to Project ChildSafe partners and information for law enforcement professionals and gun owners about obtaining gun safety kits.
Every firearm owner needs to periodically evaluate the security and accessibility of his or her firearms, and that begins by first determining the primary function of the firearm. All guns need to be secured, but not all need to be readily accessible. For instance, the classic Colt pistol that has been passed down through generations of your family needs to be secure, but rapid access isn’t necessarily of primary importance.
By contrast, your everyday carry gun or home defense gun needs to be secured but also easy to access under dire circumstances. The good news is that security and accessibility are not mutually exclusive, and the method of secure storage you select will be based on how quickly you need to reach the firearm in the home and how much you want to spend.
The most affordable option is to purchase a cable lock. Widely available and easy to use, cable locks run through the barrel or action of the firearm to prevent anyone from accessing the gun who doesn’t have the key or combination. Additionally—and this is part of the reason why Project ChildSafe has handed these locks out by the millions—cable locks secure a variety of different firearms, including pistols and revolvers, rifles and shotguns. The downside, of course, is cable locks don’t provide the type of rapid access you get with other storage options, and they do little to prevent theft.
Compact gun cases (like the one that likely came with the purchase of your handgun) serve as an economical and convenient way to store and transport your handgun, but you’ll need to secure some type of outside locks. The alternative is a lock box with integrated locks. Though not as affordable as cable locks, cases and lock boxes offer additional protection for your firearm, allow you to store essential items like cleaning kits and spare parts with your gun and can be easily transported. They are not, however, as accessible or as secure as some other options.
Electronic lock boxes and safes offer a high level of firearm security. You can now purchase electronic lock boxes for your home, office, or even your vehicle from companies like Hornady, Tuffy, SnapSafe and others, and in most cases these boxes can be permanently secured in place. Some, like security boxes from Vaultek and GunVault, come with such high-tech features as fingerprint recognition for rapid access, tamper alarms and apps that alert you when the safe alarm sounds, and you can unlock the safe remotely if desired.
There’s plenty of bad information regarding firearms security and safety floating around, and much of it, ironically, comes from the same voices crying loudly for the implementation of stricter gun control measures.
Shooters, by contrast, have long championed gun security, and few organizations have done a more admirable job spreading the word about safe gun handling than NSSF and Project ChildSafe. Data have shown that promoting safe firearm storage protects everyone, and Project ChildSafe certainly is worthy of our support.