General resources about firearms and child safety

If you would like to learn more about firearms and keeping children safe, you may find the below resources useful:

  • The Project ChildSafe website, which contains information and many resources about firearm safety for children
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians’ page on firearm safety
  • Nemours’ pediatric health system’s page on firearm safety
  • Seattle Children’s page on firearms in the home

Why is preventing unauthorized access to children and teens important?

While children and teens can certainly know and learn how to handle firearms responsibly, it is important to ensure that they do not gain unauthorized access to firearms. When children and teens gain unauthorized access to firearms and/or do not know how to handle them properly, accidents can occur. Research has found that:

  • 3 in 4 children ages 5-14 knew where firearms were hidden in the home, but 39% of their parents mistakenly thought that their child did not know the location of firearms
  • 1 in 3 children ages 5-14 had handled a firearm in the home but 22% of their parents mistakenly thought that their child had never handled a firearm
  • By the age of 3, some children are strong enough to pull the trigger of a handgun: 25% of 3- to 4-year-olds are strong enough to pull a trigger, and 70% of 5- to 6-year-olds are strong enough to pull a trigger

Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge that not all young people who come into your home will know how to handle firearms responsibly, so preventing unauthorized access to firearms in general can be important for keeping young people safe. Lastly, when young people are experiencing a crisis, such as thoughts of harming themselves, it is important to think about how you can help keep them safe — for example, by making sure they can’t access medications or a firearm in your home without your permission.

  • Project ChildSafe has a few videos that speak to this in more detail.
  • You may also find this video from Bulletproof Kids Utah helpful. In it, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown talks about how to keep kids safe around firearms.
  • The National Shooting Sports Foundation also has a flyer that reviews information about firearms responsibility in the home.

How do I use a cable firearm lock?

We hope that you will find the cable firearm lock useful and effective, whether you took one from your pediatric clinic or received or purchased one elsewhere. Please find detailed instructions for how to install the cable lock on various types of firearms here.

Additionally, below are links to quick (one-minute) videos published by a firearm storage organization that demonstrate how to use a cable lock on several different types of firearms. As a reminder, many Kaiser Permanente Colorado and Henry Ford Health pediatric clinics have cable locks available to families free of charge.

Where can I find free firearm locks?

Many places provide provide free cable firearm locks or other firearm locking mechanisms, including some police departments and doctor’s offices. If your children receive care at Kaiser Permanente Colorado or Henry Ford Health, it is likely that your pediatrician’s office is distributing free cable firearm locks to patients’ families. If your children are not patients at Kaiser Permanente Colorado or Henry Ford Health, and/or you would like to find additional free firearm locks near you, you can use Project ChildSafe’s search tool.

Where can I learn more about how to handle and use firearms responsibly?

Many local firearm dealers offer training about how to handle and use firearms responsibly. They may also have a list of courses offered in your area.

To learn more about the benefits of training and topics covered during firearm trainings, please visit this site from the Colorado Firearm Safety Coalition.

The Michigan State Police has compiled information on the use and storage of a firearm at home, and can be downloaded here.

If you live in Colorado, you can sign up for firearm handling and safety instruction at Bristlecone Shooting and Centennial Gun Club.

If you live in Michigan, you can sign up for firearm handling and safety instruction at USGunClasses. Introduction to Firearm classes are available, as are virtual classes and in-person shooting classes. Check the schedule for local and virtual classes near you, with some classes being free.

Firearm ownership is a responsibility that must be taken seriously. Learning proper safe firearm handling and storage is important for maintaining a safe environment. 

What other options do I have to secure a firearm?

Cable firearm locks may not be appropriate for all firearms or for all purposes. Fortunately, there are many different devices that can be used to secure firearms. These devices range in price and are designed to meet the diverse needs of firearm owners.

For information about several different firearm locking options and their pros and cons, click here.

How do I talk to my kids about firearm safety?

Whether or not you own a firearm, it is important to talk to your kids about firearm safety. Young people may be curious if or when they find a gun in your home or in the home of a relative or friend. To make sure they stay safe in these situations, it is essential that all children learn the basics of firearm safety. Here some tips for what to say to your kids to prepare them:

  • If you find a gun, DO NOT touch it. Tell a safe adult right away.
  • Even when a gun looks like a toy, DO NOT touch it. A real gun may look like a toy gun. Just in case, tell a safe adult right away.

For more information, please see this tip sheet from Safe Kids Worldwide, a program founded by Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC; and this website from the US Department of Justice. Please also see this video, made by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Project ChildSafe.

How do I talk to other parents and caregivers about firearms in their homes?

Kids may be curious if they find a gun when visiting friends or relatives. To make sure that your child will not have access to firearms on play dates or family visits, it can be helpful to have a conversation with the adult(s) in the home. If you’re not sure how to bring this up, please see the below resource.

The US Department of Justice has recommendations for how to have these conversations here.

Resources about suicide

When someone you love, like a child, is experiencing mental health challenges or thoughts of suicide or self-harm, it can be very difficult to know what to do. That person’s primary care provider or mental health provider can help them — and you, if you are involved in their care — to think through strategies to keep them safe. If you are looking for additional resources about how to help a loved one who is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please see the resources below.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has resources for parents and guardians here. Their resources cover a variety of topics, including how to talk to a child who you think might be having thoughts about wanting to harm themselves.

When someone in your home is experiencing suicidal ideation, it is important to limit their access to things they could use to harm themselves, including medications and firearms. Project ChildSafe and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention have collaborated to create resources for firearm-owning parents to help them understand youth mental health and how to prevent unauthorized access to firearms.

The Colorado Firearm Safety Coalition also has a resource that explains options for keeping someone experiencing thoughts of suicide safe and links to many other resources that provide more information.

Many firearm sellers participate in programs such as Walk the Talk America, which allows firearm owners to temporarily bring their firearms to a firearm seller for safe keeping when needed — for example, if someone in the home is experiencing a mental health crisis. For more information, please see this brief video about the program here.

In the event of an emergency, please contact:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

  • English/Spanish: 988
  • For people who are deaf or hard of hearing:
    • TTY users should use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
    • Online Chat

Crisis Text Line:

  • English: Text HOME to 741741 or 443-SUPPORT in WhatsApp
  • Spanish: Text AYUDA to 741741 or 442-AYUDAME in WhatsApp

Resources for people experiencing interpersonal or domestic violence

If you are concerned about domestic or interpersonal violence against you or someone else — using a firearm or not — there are many organizations who can provide assistance. Please see a list of resources compiled by Futures Without Violence here.

Please note that our S.A.F.E. Firearm study team is not affiliated with the organizations referenced on this resources page, nor are we responsible for any content included on their respective websites.