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By Larry Keane

Project ChildSafe, an NSSF program, is the leader in promoting safe firearm handling and storage. The program’s efforts are making a difference. Not only are unintentional firearm fatalities at an all-time low, but a new Justice Department report reveals a decrease in unauthorized access to guns by youths.

The accomplishments of the firearm industry initiative are impressive and substantial. Most notably in 2019, Project ChildSafe wrapped up a 30-month initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Justice-Bureau of Justice Assistance. According to Project ChildSafe 2019 Annual Review, this initiative’s purpose was “to launch and sustain three community-wide firearm safety initiatives in Oklahoma City, Memphis and Cleveland and provide additional firearm safety kits and educational resources to communities nationwide to better foster a culture of safety.”

Real Solutions

The numbers speak for themselves with the level of effort and success, boasting an impressive 497,301 total locks distributed, 25.8 million social media impressions, and 240 new law enforcement partners recruited. Project ChildSafe helped educate residents of these communities on safe storage to prevent access to firearms from getting into the wrong hands, ultimately saving lives and creating a safer community.

The safe handling and safe storage initiatives that Project ChildSafe leads are becoming even more important with the increase of new gun owners. With the recent pandemic and civil unrest, there has been a significant increase in firearm purchasing activity for a variety of reasons, including self-protection and home defense. Millions of first-time gun buyers have made the need for education and safety devices even more important.

The main goal of Project ChildSafe has consistently been safe storage and education of firearms for the whole family, primarily to reinforce safe practices and avoid unnecessary injury or loss of life. Thanks to this type of education the U.S. has seen a 55% decrease in firearm related fatalities among children over the past two decades.

A recent report out of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2019, demonstrates another valuable metric behind children and firearms. The study sheds light on many aspects of crime and safety at schools regarding child behavior and risk. One thing is clear: there has been an overall reduction in access to firearms without adult supervision. That’s a clear win for firearm owner education.

Misleading Data

Another important detail of the study is the inclusion of 18-year-old individuals in the student demographic. At 18, an individual is legally considered an adult and can participate in legal firearm ownership in many parts of the country. Students 18 years of age being counted in the metrics is misleading since they have legal access to firearms unlike the students on the other end of the age spectrum. This conflated categorization lends itself to inaccurate data and may encourage readers to embrace misconceptions around the relationship between firearms and young people.

Manipulating public perception with data that is not well vetted or completely misconstrued is nothing new in our modern day of media sensationalism. NSSF reported a similar misrepresentation of data regarding inflated school shooting incidents just a couple years ago.

That highlighted National Public Radio report which concluded the number of school shootings is vastly overstated. Contrary prevailing public sentiment, the BJS School Crime and Safety: 2019 study shows the percentage of students who reported being afraid of an attack or harm during the school year has been steadily dropping over the past decade.

Keeping our children and communities safe while respecting every citizen’s legal rights is paramount for our industry. More citizens are legally and responsibly owning firearms than ever before. Access to firearms for unauthorized persons is decreasing, and the fear of harm at school is at a steady decline. Educational programs like Project ChildSafe are becoming more beneficial to not only the average gun owner but to all Americans.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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  1. If you own guns…and have kids…you have to keep the gun on you or have a good place to lock it up.
    I think all houses should have a safe of some sort…if not for guns then for valuables and papers.
    Should have locking medicine cabinets and places to lock up laundry and pool chemicals
    It’s really just common sense…

    • I consider this whole thing highly questionable.

      These locks cannot prevent access. That’s not to mention that since every new gun comes with one, nothing can be gleaned from the number of locks.

    • Education, education, education is very important as well as not making it a mystery. Establish expectations for a child’s behavior and hold them to it, too. Raised 4 kids to adults and they were handling when they were 4. Neighbors all do the same, too. Same is done for knives and other tools. Nary an issue.

    • I had a rifle in my room at the age of 7. Ammo as well. Not one time did I consider the use of rifle for something other than hunting or plinking. Some families raise responsible children who become responsible adults and continues that cycle.

      I see other people and their children and wonder where the link was broken. I don’t blame broken families, plenty of us had parents divorce and managed to stay responsible. Many of us learned better coping skills out of it.

      • I see things we boomers had in a whole new light now.
        Things like a stay at home mom until I was in 7th Grade. Shooting with my Dad and my older brother, killing cans mostly. Being held responsible for my own and others actions. Never treating others private property poorly. Every adult on my cul-de-sac had been given permission to whack my hienie if I was doing something dangerous for me or others. Learning to obey the rules or take the punishment if I didn’t. Mr. Greenjeans, the Captain, and Howdy Doody were teaching me how to behave as soon as we had a tv.
        I guess all of the nurturing, teaching, playing and ass-whoopins that was my childhood is missing now.
        Electronic gizmos make the kids smarter in technical actions, but much more anti social and sometimes mildly sociopathic.

        • Yes, yes, and yes.

          I’m a generation younger than you are (Gen X), but we still had these general social rules in place in the ’80s as I was growing up. I miss those days.

    • That’s really just common crap. My oldest was firing a .38 Spl at 4, and sure enough he was harmed by the experience. Turned out he was standing on an anthill, when they started biting him he was no longer interested in shooting. Still, he’s 45 now with a Master’s degree and a fine job, what kids need is parents who will educate them in safety, not hide them away from all danger.

    • If the lock that comes with your gun doesn’t fit your children, buy another lock that does!
      Remember to always lock your children away safely, so they don’t have access to firearms.
      Only give the key to their restraints to adults who can be trusted with children (not Jeffrey Epstein or Ghislaine Maxwell) and have been trained to handle children safely.
      Never leave your children lying around unlocked in the presence of guns!

      LOL, joking (in case this humor goes over the heads of certain people on this site)

    • There oughta be someplace we could drop our spare locks for others to use. Like, gun stores, for recycling, for people who can’t afford their own lock. Except, of course, that was the goal of mandatory locks, to make guns more expensive, since they do nothing else.

  2. I won’t give gun companies that much credit. News stories of kids shooting themselves.and others woke people up. People are also locking guns up for fear.of theft and many states have laws on storage with kids in the house.

    • I would agree that locking guns away from small children is not just a wise thing to do but is also a responsible thing. Trigger locks and cable locks don’t do that though. They also don’t prevent theft.

      • My guns are locked up mostly because of law but also because I want to keep the collection I have worked hard for.

  3. the gun industry gets child gun death numbers down
    blue cities get them right back up again
    right on man…right on…

        • Read freakonomics. It makes a case abortion reduced crime starting in the 90s since the criminals were never born. The book fails to credit other events which contributed to lower crime but the point is valid.

  4. As usual, the Armed Intelligentsia have simple and effective solutions.

    Train your children with firearms, communicate age-appropriate expectations, and hold them to it.

    Secure firearms (either on your person, in a secure container, and/or out of reach) when children are of an age and responsibility level that requires it.

    Demonstrate firearms interactively and safely with your children through age-appropriate hands-on activities. This demystifies firearms, gives children confidence, and helps them to truly understand the serious nature of firearms. This is especially important because most children cannot understand firearms on an intellectual/abstract level. Rather, they need to experience firearms themselves in a safe and supervised manner to truly grasp the serious nature of firearms.

    • I was never a hunter, parents and grandparents were not either, but I think that participating in a large animal hunt and helping field dress that animal would teach anyone what firearms can do.
      After being through that, anyone who took up firearms against a fellow human without a solid reason, would have to have serious mental problems. At the least, the earlier experience would teach them the finality of the action and that do overs are just for video games.

      • Very good point. I did grow up where my father and close friends were hunters and certainly, besides going through the Hunter’s Safety courses, had significant field time learning the impact of even something as “small” as a 22LR. Knocking a goose out of the air at 40 yards or more as well as downing deer in the fall gave us respect for the damage such firearms could do. None of my family or friends tolerated “fooling around” or “playing” with firearms. Basically our thought was “one mess-up and you’re dead”. Life isn’t a video game and there are no do-overs once the firearm discharges.

    • My son learned what guns can do from the late R Lee Emery’s Lock n Load TV
      show. Mythbusters further reinforced the lessons.

  5. The gun locks make great locks for the sheds and outside equipment. My kids were shooting at 5-6 and when we went into the desert to shoot, our guns were loaded before we left. At 6, my kids had their handguns holstered, their backpacks full of ammo, water and lunch, and then their rifles &/or shotguns. We carried our guns uncased, got on the city bus, rode out to the airbase and then hiked into the desert for an afternoon of shooting. One time in a gun store, the salesman handed my kid a single shot .22. He instinctively pointed it to the ground and checked the chamber. I didn’t have any problems teaching them responsibility. Kids are a blank slate and we can write on their whatever we want. I also gave them each a scroll saw at six years old. They were free to use electric tools, they carried knives, used axes, chain saws as well as the sewing machine, barbecue grill, and food blenders. They were also capable of baking from scratch, cooking, gardening and my youngest ran a 9 ball rack when he was 8. Spending time with the kids is what makes the difference. I was capable of playing with Legos, Fisher Price, snowboarding and fishing. The kids grew up with capabilities to repair their own homes, cars, snowboards, motorcycles, boats and whatever else needs fixing. I loved those years with the kids and have to admit, spending time with them was the best time of my life. The kids just want a parent and the parent needs to just let the kid fulfill his childhood and grow out of it so he or she isn’t childish when they are supposed to be responsible.


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