On Tuesday, Minnesota House lawmakers introduced House File 396 (Becker-Finn) a bill strengthening requirements for safe storage of firearms and ammunition. Guns are the leading cause of death among kids and teens in Minnesota, and requiring safe storage is vital to saving lives.
“Far too often we hear news stories of children accessing their parents’ unlocked guns, and shooting themselves or others,” said Sarah Mikesell, a volunteer with the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Secure storage of guns in Minnesota saves so many lives. We are thankful for Minnesota lawmakers prioritizing gun safety, and urge them to pass this critical public safety measure.”
Across the country, an average of 350 children under the age of 18 unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else every year. In incidents of gunfire on school grounds, up to 80 percent of shooters under the age of 18 got the gun from their home or the homes of friends or relatives. And yet, an estimated 54% of gun owners don’t lock all their guns securely, and 4.6 million children in the United States live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded firearm.
Research shows secure firearm storage plays a vital role in reducing unintentional shootings, school shootings, and gun suicide. Over the past decade, the firearm suicide rate among young people has increased faster than in any other age group, reaching its highest rate in more than 20 years. By keeping firearms securely stored, gun owners can help mitigate the risk of gun violence at home and in schools.
23 states and Washington, DC have some kind of law requiring firearm storage. Eight states and the District of Columbia, as well as several cities, have laws mandating that owners secure their firearms. Fifteen states have passed another form of firearm storage laws, known as child access prevention (CAP) laws, which generally provide that if a minor accesses a firearm, the person who failed to adequately secure the firearm is liable. Six states have storage laws that are also aimed at preventing access to firearms by persons legally prohibited from having them.
In an average year, 462 people die and 811 are wounded by guns in Minnesota. An average of 41 children and teens die by guns every year, of which 55% of these deaths are suicides and 39% are homicides. Gun violence in Minnesota costs $1,174 per person each year. Gun deaths and injuries cost Minnesota $6.6 billion each year, of which $105.5 million is paid by taxpayers
More information about gun violence in Minnesota is available here.