hornady rapid safe night guard
Courtesy Hornady
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By Joe Bartozzi

Firearm sales continue to be hot, even after a year of pandemic closures, civil unrest, elections and now the specter of gun control executive actions and legislation. The firearm industry, and those businesses that provide the means of exercising the Second Amendment, are working to ensure new firearm owners are welcomed, educated, and encouraged to practice safe storage and handling of their new purchases. This has always been a top priority and will remain so with more than 8.4 million first-time gun buyers last year and more joining the community each day.

As the coronavirus vaccine rollout continues and community lockdowns are lifted, Americans will be more comfortable visiting friends and families again. Neighborhood get-togethers and family barbecues will mean more children and visitors in homes with warmer weather arriving. It is critical to remind firearm owners to keep unattended firearms safely stored and inaccessible to those who shouldn’t possess them.

The great news is that local firearm retailers are doing their part to reinforce safe storage principles. NSSF, the firearm industry’s trade association, is doing our part as well with several proven initiatives to reduce firearm accidents.

Community Retailers as Safety Source

More than 21 million background checks for the sale of a firearm were run last year. Forty percent of those were for first-time gun buyers. African-Americans purchased firearms at a rate that was 58 percent higher than in 2019. Hispanic-American firearm purchasing rose 49 percent during the same period and Asian-American purchases rose nearly 43 percent.

The first quarter of 2021 saw an NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of almost 5.4 million, an increase of 13.3 percent over the first quarter of 2020, making this the highest first-quarter on record. The local retailers selling firearms are the first crucial contact to creating a culture of firearm safety.

Mike Sian, a firearm instructor at Spectrum Fitness in Minot, N.D., understands the importance of providing a welcoming face to new gun owners looking for education.

“You don’t want accidents to happen. And I think a lot of times the accidents happen because of the lack of education and training and curiosity,” Sian explained.

He emphasizes the importance of gun safety kits and firearm locks for unattended firearms, especially with children around. “You don’t know what it is, and it’s exposed and children are curious.”

In Claycomo, Mo., Don Pind explains why he spends time instructing new gun owners.

woman shooting range pistol gun training
Dan Z. for TTAG

“A gun is supposed to make you feel better, that you can protect yourself if need be,” Pind said. “If you don’t have the proper training, all it is is a good paperweight.”

From North Dakota to Texas, Florida to California, Americans are proactively seeking out firearm education, training, practice opportunities and resources and their local firearm retailer is there to help with an open door and a smile.

Reducing Tragedies

One of NSSF’s firearm safety initiatives is Project ChildSafe, a campaign to promote safe firearm storage in the home. Since 1999, NSSF has partnered with more than 15,000 local law enforcement agencies in all 50 states to distribute over 40 million firearm safety kits, including free locking devices.

In Albuquerque, City Councilor Brooke Bassan praised two recent Project ChildSafe drive-through community events where parents with firearms in the home could receive educational materials and firearm locks, no questions asked.

“We gave out free gun locks and information about responsible firearm safety in the home,” Bassan said, explaining 1,000 gun locks were passed out. “Reducing violence, helping to reduce tragedy and making our city safer is so critically important.”

Project ChildSafe Lock
Courtesy City of Meadows

Successful events like these in Albuquerque are happening across the country as safe firearm storage remains a priority of new and experienced firearm owners alike.

Continuing Positive Trends

Responsible and safe firearm handling and storage comes with education and practice and leads to a more confident and mindful gun owner. NSSF has invested in Real Solutions to create safer communities. In addition to Project ChildSafe, NSSF programs like Don’t Lie For the Other Guy and Operation Secure Store ensure firearms remain beyond the reach of those who shouldn’t possess them. The FixNICS initiative increased reporting of disqualifying adjudicated mental health records to the FBI from 1.7 million in 2013 to over 6 million today, a 266 percent increase.

NSSF also partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to encourage gun owners to have a brave conversation and prevent the tragedy of suicide by firearm. A clear focus on a culture of firearm safety resulted in the lowest number of unintentional firearm fatalities in more than 100 years since record keeping began in 1903.

As Americans begin to return to normal life, including more visits and celebrating with friends and family, it’s crucial that safe and responsible firearm storage remain a top priority for America’s gun owners, so the numbers continue in the right direction.


Joe Bartozzi is the President and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation

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  1. Wonder why NSSF doesn’t place articles like this on all the social media sites, all the newspapers, and all the cable news channels. Why is NSSF only reaching out to the “choir”?

    You’d think there was some coordinated effort out there to silence organizations like NSSF.

    • I’m rather glad they haven’t. This would be spun or interpreted as “Leading pro-gun organization supports ‘punish the crime victim’ laws” whether NSSF meant it that way or not.

  2. Wouldn’t it be okay to just keep our (eventually) allowed single cartridge in a pocket, like Andy had Barney do??

  3. “You don’t know what it is, and it’s exposed and children are curious.”
    This is truth, and best way to keep kids safe is remove that curiosity, not lock your guns away like some ‘forbidden fruit’; that only INCREASES their curiosity (not that you should just leave guns laying all over the house either).
    Let them see your guns. Let them handle them. Show them how they work and teach them safe handling (4 rules). Then, take them out shooting so they can see/hear/feel firsthand the kind of power that’s there. This is, of course, assuming they are all of ‘teachable’ age, which varies per kid.
    All three of my boys know how to safely handle and fire a gun. The youngest of them is 7 and even he handles a weapon safer than many adults I’ve met.
    If they want to ‘mess with a gun’ they simply ask because I’ve taken away the ‘curiosity factor’.

    • I see this as a both/and situation. Do all that — AND secure your firearms.

      My kids were 9 and 12 when I started getting into guns, so they were at a reasonably responsible/teachable age, and we all went out shooting and learned about guns together.

      But not every kid — or even every adult — who comes to your house is going to have the education and self-control necessary to keep themselves out of danger. And as they grow up, kids change.

      They could be literally hormonally deranged as teenagers and not in their right minds. I don’t mind admitting that my kids were at certain points, and I was, too. Depression runs in the family, and it hit my kids as teens even harder than it hit me when I was their age. I’m glad I played it safe, because there were times when the kids actually were a danger to themselves (and we all got through it, and they became stable, responsible humans again).

      • Lol, I think my youngest son was 14 when I gave him an AK, let him keep it in his bedroom. He accidentally shot a hole in the ceiling with it.
        What’d I do, “You dumb ass, be more careful next time, now get the ladder and see if were going to have to patch the roof.”
        Raising kids without a mom sucked but we had fun.

    • Okay, now I have a mind movie running in my head … ” Miner honey, it’s time for you and mommy to talk about the birds and the bees”…. Ugh!

    • Yes, don’t try to hide them away and say “no tocar” because then they will try to find out on their own. Dad took us shooting, but not very often at first and our curiosity outstripped his scheduling. Only took us 5 minutes to find where he hid the key to the gun cabinet, and we also figured out how to pick the lock in case the key wasn’t there for some reason. The ammo was always in there also, and thank God we “knew enough” to mess with only one at a time–we checked chambers and never loaded anything. We would sneak them out whenever we had a chance, and work the actions, and dream about shooting Indians and wild game. I don’t think he ever caught on, because he wouldn’t have let it pass. So, expect your kids to try it too, unless their curiosity is at least somewhat satiated by supervised time with an adult. And at the end of your range session, lock them up in something more secure than an old wood and glass cabinet that opens with a skeleton key.

  4. “Wouldn’t it be okay to just keep our (eventually) allowed single cartridge in a

    Prolly not, if your pocket is capable of holding more than three rounds.

  5. Yep just as I suspected, the safe manufacturers are behind the safe storage laws.
    Keep pushing

  6. “I see this as a both/and situation. Do all that — AND secure your firearms. ”

    Seems that would mandate home carry all the time (in the shower/tub?), and no cleverly stashed backup guns.

    • That’s about the size of it.

      Pro tip: If you lock the bathroom door, the gun doesn’t have to literally go into the tub with you.

  7. “Pro tip: If you lock the bathroom door, the gun doesn’t have to literally go into the tub with you.”

    Tuco took his into the bathtub, and guns and ammo are so much better today.

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