More women than ever are taking on the responsibility of firearm ownership. Women Veterans are well-trained in the care and use of firearms, but other members of your home may not be.
During National Safety Month this June, VA encourages women Veterans to make sure firearms are stored safely in the home. Talk to friends and family about proper firearm storage and safety methods. Doing so can help prevent accidents and suicides.
Firearm storage and a decreased risk of accidents and suicide
VA is working to prevent suicide among those who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces. Safe firearm storage is an important part of suicide prevention.
Firearms were used in nearly half of all suicides among Americans in 2017 and nearly 70% of all Veteran suicides. Women Veterans have a higher risk of suicide than other women and are also more likely to use firearms to attempt suicide.
For most, thoughts of suicide are usually brief and temporary. Putting time and space between someone in crisis and firearms by using secure storage methods can make all the difference.
Research also shows there is an 80% reduction in accidental firearm deaths among children when firearms and ammunition are stored separately.
Here are some simple ways to protect yourself, your friends and your family:
- Keep firearms unloaded when not in use and out of the reach of children and unauthorized adults.
- Store firearms in a safe, locking cabinet or lockbox.
- Store ammunition separately from firearms.
- Use a cable or trigger lock for your firearm.
- Store firearms disassembled or remove the firing pin.
- Make sure household members understand the safety guidelines concerning firearms.
- If there is someone at high risk for suicide in the home, store firearms at the home of someone you trust. Check relevant firearm laws before doing so.
- Regularly review the safe storage of your firearms and safe handling guidelines.
- Request a firearm lock from your local VA Suicide Prevention Coordinator (SPC). Find your local SPC using the VA resource locator.
By following and talking about safe and simple storage practices, you can help prevent firearm accidents and deaths in the home. Firearm owners have a duty to protect themselves, family members and the public from misuse.
Protect you, friends and family
Firearm safety locks, safes, and other proper storage methods not only protect you but your friends and family members as well.
Free cable firearm locks are available at VA Medical Centers (VAMC) across the country courtesy of Project ChildSafe, a VA-endorsed program. You can get the locks from your VA primary care team or your VAMC’s suicide prevention coordinator.
For more information, review VA’s Safe Firearm Storage Toolkit, learn how to create a safe home environment. Check out VA’s safety brochure for Veterans.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
VA Women’s Health addresses the health care needs of women Veterans and works to ensure that timely, equitable, high-quality, comprehensive health care services are provided in a sensitive and safe environment at VA health facilities nationwide. We strive to be a national leader in the provision of health care for women, thereby raising the standard of care for all women.