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Gun Safety

Many families keep a gun in the home. But every year, guns are used to kill or injure thousands of Americans. 

It is safest to stay away from guns. That means no guns at home and avoiding guns outside the home.

If You Have Guns in Your Home

If your parents keep guns in the home, you can talk to them about the risks. Having a gun increases the risk of murder and suicide in that home. 

If your family decides to keep a gun in the home:

  • The gun needs to be stored unloaded and locked up with the bullets locked up away from the gun. Only parents or responsible adults should know how to unlock the storage boxes.
  • Never get the gun out unless a parent or another responsible adult is with you.

If You Come Across a Gun Somewhere

If you see a gun at your home or a friend's home:

  1. Stop what you are doing.
  2. Do not touch the gun, even if it looks like a toy.
  3. Leave the area where the gun is.
  4. Tell an adult right away.

If Someone Is Carrying a Gun

Some teens carry a gun for protection. But this actually makes it more likely that they will get hurt. Other teens carry a gun for attention or because they are thinking of hurting others or themselves.

If someone tells you they have a gun or shows you a gun:

  • Get away from the person quickly and quietly.
  • Tell an adult you trust immediately. If you can't find a teacher, parent, coach, or other adult, call 911.

Will Someone Know if I Tell That They Have a Gun?

Your school counselor, principal, teacher, or coach should know how to handle the situation without using your name. If you are still worried that someone will find out, call 911 and ask them to keep your identity confidential.

Remember, you may save a life by reporting that someone is carrying a gun.

Staying Safe When Using a Gun for Recreation

If you are allowed to use a gun for recreation such as hunting, follow these rules:

  • Never get the gun out when you are alone. Only use the gun with a parent or a responsible adult there.
  • Always assume a gun is loaded.
  • Never point a gun at someone, even if you think it is unloaded.

Gun Safety and Depression

Gun safety is especially important for people who have gone through (or are going through) depression. Depression can make someone more likely to think about or commit suicide. 

All guns should be removed from the home if you or someone in the family:

  • has depression
  • has thoughts of suicide
  • has thought or talked about hurting others

If the guns aren't removed, it's even more important to keep them unloaded and locked up with the bullets stored separately and keys hidden.

If you feel depressed, treatment can help things get better. To find help for depression, talk to a parent, coach, relative, school counselor, religious leader, or teacher about where to start.

If you have been thinking about suicide, get help right away. These are strong feelings that make it hard to see that there are other choices. To get help now:

  • Talk to someone you trust, like a parent or other caring, responsible adult in your family. If you can't talk to a parent or relative, talk to someone like a coach, school counselor, religious leader, or teacher.

or

  • Call a suicide crisis line (such as 1-800-SUICIDE) or your local emergency number (911). You can get help without giving your name. They are there to help you figure out how to work through tough situations.

or

  • Go to the emergency room.

Top Things to Know

Guns are dangerous. Having a gun at home or being around guns can put you at risk for being hurt or killed by a gun.

To keep yourself safe:

  • Ask your parents not to keep guns in the home. If they do keep guns at home, be sure they are stored unloaded and locked up. Only parents and responsible adults should know how to unlock the storage boxes.
  • Stay away from guns outside of your home. Do not go to places where there are guns and do not hang around with people who carry guns.
  • If you use guns for recreation, follow safe gun handling rules. Only use the gun when a parent or another responsible adult is there. Always assume a gun is loaded, and never point a gun at someone.
  • If you have depression or thoughts of hurting or killing yourself, get help right away.

Remember: The best way to prevent gun injuries is to never keep guns at home and avoid homes that do keep guns. If you do keep a gun at home, keep the gun unloaded and locked up with the bullets locked up and stored separately. Visit ProjectChildSafe.org for more information on gun safety.

Date reviewed: April 2018