Unsecured guns pose a special risk to children — kids as young as three years old are strong enough to pull a trigger.
Guns in homes pose a clear risk to the safety of children. Especially when guns are not stored safely or securely, tragic accidental shootings and youth suicides occur far too often. Child access prevention laws hold gun owners accountable for the safe storage of their firearms, which helps prevent guns from falling into young hands.
The Importance of Child Access Prevention Laws
In 2015 alone, America lost nearly 3,000 children and teenagers to gun violence. More than 1,000 of these deaths were either suicides or accidental shootings. Child access prevention laws hold gun owners accountable for the safe storage of firearms. 27 states and DC have enacted some form of CAP law.
The Impact of Child Access Prevention Laws
- Child access prevention laws been shown to be effective at reducing youth suicides and unintentional shootings:
- One study of twelve states where child access prevention laws had been in effect for at least one year found that unintentional firearm deaths fell by 23% among children under 15 years of age.
- Researchers recently found that child access prevention laws were associated with an 8.3% decrease in suicides among children ages 14 to 17.
- A 2005 study concluded that safe storage practices serve as a protective measure to reduce youth suicide and unintentional injury in homes with children and teenagers.
- A 2013 study of hospital data found that child access prevention laws are associated with reductions in nonfatal gun injuries among children under age 18.
The Importance of Keeping Guns Secured
- 75% of the guns used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional injuries are stored in the residences of the victim, a relative, or a friend.
- 1/3 of handguns are kept loaded and unlocked, and most children know where their parents keep their guns—even if their parents think otherwise.
- 73% of children under age 10 living in homes with guns reported knowing the location of their parents’ firearms, and 36% had handled the guns.
No Federal Child Access Prevention Laws
There are no child access prevention laws at the federal level, and federal law does not generally require gun owners to safely store their guns. Federal law does, however, make it unlawful for any licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer to sell or transfer any handgun unless the transferee is provided with a “secure gun storage or safety device.” Federal law also immunizes the lawful owner of a handgun who uses a secure gun storage or safety device from certain civil actions based on the criminal or unlawful misuse of the handgun by a third party.