The Public Health Case for the Safe Storage of Firearms: Adolescent Suicides Add One More 'Smoking Gun'
50 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2010 Last revised: 15 Oct 2012
Date Written: 2000
This article argues for passage of safe gun storage laws as a means of reducing adolescent suicides.
Millions of loaded and unlocked firearms sit in homes throughout America, easily accessible to unauthorized, dangerous users. Public health research, including ten studies discussed in this Article, shows that astonishingly high percentages of gun owners negligently store the most dangerous consumer product legally obtainable. Unsecured guns invite firearms tragedies of all types.
The author has previously argued for safe gun storage laws as a means for reducing both accidental and intentional third-party shootings.
The current article asserts that legislatively mandated safe firearms storage would also help stem the tide of adolescent suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youths between the ages of fifteen and nineteen, and the third leading cause of death for youths aged fifteen to twenty-four. While the overall suicide rate in the United States has remained relatively stable since 1950, the rate of suicide for adolescents has more than tripled. Firearms account for 60 percent of all suicides in this country, including youth suicides, even though they are used in only a small percentage of suicide attempts.
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