Tips for gun owners from Public Health

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Photo by Mike Remarcke

From Public Health Seattle and King county

Stress and anxiety is understandably high with so much upheaval in our lives. If you or your family member is a gun owner, it’s important, now more than ever, to make sure that you are practicing safe habits.

For those who own guns, the current situation with the statewide Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and closure of schools means more people — including children and youth — are home, and this has implications for household safety related to firearms.

Here are some tips to help keep ourselves and our loved ones safe during this challenging and uncertain time.

Safely store firearms and medications.

Physical distancing can be hard on those of us who already feel socially isolated. Reducing easy access to firearms and medications can help keep everyone safe. Change the combination on your gun safe, lock up medications and ammunition, or consider storing firearms that you don’t use day-to-day offsite right now. If you’re worried about a friend or loved one, offer to store their firearms with yours for now.

If you’re a new firearm owner, start building good safety habits now. For safe storage tips, check out our Lock It Up page. If you don’t have a safe or lockbox, you can order one online from many of our retail partners.

Find support and connection

At a time when people are under more stress, know the resources for help and support (like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 and King County Crisis Connections at 866-427-4747) if you or someone in your house has a crisis.

It also helps to make a plan for keeping connected to your family and friends if you can’t be together right now. Keeping connected helps us manage anxiety and feel less alone.

Reduce kids’ access to family firearms as much as you can

With school closures, kids are spending more time at home. It’s normal for young children to be curious and explore in drawers, cabinets, and closets at home and for teens to be fascinated with firearms. If firearms are usually unlocked at home while your kids are at school, make sure to lock them up. Safe storage practices can reduce the risk of firearms ending up in the wrong hands.

Pay attention to how stress affects you and your family and stay safe

Stressful situations like this can put strain on our families and relationships. This is a hard time for everyone – anxiety and stress levels are high! Where this turns into domestic violence, the results can be deadly, especially where firearms are readily available.

Storing firearms locked up is a good safety measure, and so is seeking help if you feel unsafe. If you’re in need of a protection order, you can get information here and start the process here. COVID-19 will not stop people experiencing domestic violence from getting help.

Resist anxiety and fear with information from credible sources

Many people feel uneasy right now and some may be thinking they need to use firearms to protect themselves. Fortunately, people in King County are making responsible decisions and taking care of each other during this difficult time. 

To reduce fear of the unknown, follow Public Health’s COVID-19 page, which is frequently updated with the best information available. If you’re feeling overloaded with information in the media, consider reducing your media and social media exposure. It may reduce anxiety, and doesn’t mean that you won’t know what’s going on.

The best thing we can do for our communities now is to stay home to keep from catching COVID-19 or spreading it to the people at highest risk in our families and communities. We can all be part of reducing the spread of COVID-19, and we’re grateful to everyone for being part of the solution.



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