RALEIGH, NC – June 5, 2023 – On June 5th, Governor Roy Cooper announced the North Carolina S.A.F.E. (Secure All Firearms Effectively) initiative for the safe storage of firearms to save lives and reduce gun thefts. The initiative is in response to the rising number of gun-related fatalities of children and youth and firearm thefts in the state. Most gun thefts from cars were from unlocked cars. According to a statewide telephone survey in 2021, more than one-half of loaded firearms at home were stored unlocked. The Governor declared June 4-10 as being a Week of Action to raise awareness of the importance of safe gun storage. The program includes social media ads, advertising on buses, and teaching children about preventing gun violence.
Firearm violence is a public health problem in North Carolina.
- It is the most frequent cause of children and youth death
- 116 children died from firearm-related injury in 2021
- Most firearm-related deaths are suicides.
- Most adolescent suicides by firearms were from a gun owned by a family member
- The annual rate of gun deaths increased more than 200% between 2012 to 2021
- There were more hospitalizations of children from firearm injuries between 2016 to 2020
- There were more children emergency department visits for firearm injury between 2017 to 2021
- The number of gun thefts have been skyrocketing
- There is an increase in firearm-related juvenile crime
Safe gun storage is an effective intervention to reduce firearm thefts and firearms deaths of children and youth. NC S.A.F.E. recommends that gun owners follow these recommendations:
- Firearms should be locked when not in use
- Firearms should be stored unloaded
- Ammunition should be stored separately and locked
- Firearms in vehicles should be locked and the vehicle should be locked
The Governor’s gun safety initiative has brought a lot of attention for gun violence prevention to western North Carolina. At their June 6th meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners recognized this month as Gun Violence Prevention Month. On June 8th, the NC Department of Public Safety co-hosted a media event in partnership with the Buncombe County Department of Health & Human Services to promote the initiative and the Week of Action.
Governor Cooper said at a press conference earlier in the month, “For those who own guns, it’s our responsibility to keep them safe and out of the wrong hands. Safe storage is an essential part of responsible gun ownership, and this initiative will encourage North Carolinians to safely secure their firearms in their homes and vehicles.”
Listen to the full report below:
Contact: Dr. Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, email@example.com