Firearms Injuries Decrease Dramatically
Strong downward trend shown in statistical analysis
NEWTOWN, CT. - Analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from the Firearms Injury Surveillance Study for 1993-1997 show a dramatic decrease in non-fatal firearms-related injuries for all age categories for children and adolescents. This decrease coincides with a similar drop in accidental firearms fatalities, which reached an all-time low in 2000.
“This good news underscores the value of nationwide safety efforts sponsored by the shooting sports industry, and those of the thousands of volunteers in hunter safety education, the National Rifle Association, Boy Scouts and 4-H firearm safety instruction who make a positive contribution to increasingly safe ownership of firearms and enjoyment of the shooting sports, said Bob Delfay, president and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
The study shows a 37% decrease in the total number of non-fatal firearms related injuries in the five-year period. The drop is from 28,963 in 1993 to 18,009 in 1997 for children and adolescents ages 0-19. The greatest rates of decrease occurred among the youngest age groups with non-fatal firearms related injuries for children ages 0-4 down 50%, and non-fatal firearms related injuries for children ages 5-9 down 76%. The total number of non-fatal firearms related injuries for children under 10 dropped 64% from 1,308 in 1993 to 465 in 1997. These firearm-related injury numbers would be even lower but the study includes such broadly defined non-penetrating gunshot injuries as those from powder burns, recoil, and even pistol whipping (the use of a firearm as a blunt object in an assault).
The National Shooting Sports Foundation publishes numerous brochures for parents, individual firearms owners, sportsmen and hunters. Safety education focuses on safe handling and storage with special emphasis on properly storing an unloaded firearm so that it is inaccessible to children or other unauthorized persons. Key firearm safety points include:
Follow safe firearm handling practices at all times: keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction; keep fingers off the trigger; and keep the firearm unloaded when not in use.
Keep all unattended firearms locked in a safe place, away from children and other unauthorized persons; store ammunition under lock and key, separately from firearms.
Read and understand the owner’s manual that came with the firearm.
In 1999 NSSF launched Project HomeSafe, now among the nation’s largest firearms safety initiatives, distributing free Firearms Safety Kits in communities around the country. The safety kits, distributed in cooperation with Lt. Governors and local law enforcement, include a cable-style gun lock and firearms safety brochure. Project HomeSafe is funded by the firearms industry and a $4.9 million grant through the U.S. Department of Justice. For more information on Project HomeSafe visit www.projecthomesafe.org.
In 2000, the number of accidental firearm fatalities in the U.S. fell to an all-time low, according to the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts report. The preliminary total of 600 firearm fatalities in 2000 is 25% fewer than in 1999, reflects a 58% drop since 1990, and is the lowest number of fatalities reported since records were first kept in 1903.
In the same year accidental firearms fatalities were reduced to 600, the National Safety Council reports accidental drowning deaths in the U.S. numbered 3,900. There were 3,600 deaths from fires and burns, and poisonings of all types took 12,100 lives.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, with over 1,900 members, is the firearms industry’s largest and most diverse trade association. Formed in 1961, the NSSF manages a variety of outreach programs with a special emphasis on efforts to promote firearm safety education to all gun owners. For additional information visit the NSSF Web site at www.nssf.org