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Fact Sheet

Misuse of a firearm can easily cause serious injury or death. Be a responsible owner... protect yourself, your family and others. Assume that every firearm is loaded, don't let it fall into the wrong hands, and practice other safety precautions and laws.

Responsible Firearm Ownership
  • Know local, state and federal laws regarding the use of firearms.
  • Know how to properly handle, clean, load, lock and store your firearm.
  • Never allow a firearm to be present when drugs or alcohol are being used.
  • Never display a firearm at a social gathering.
  • Clean a firearm by yourself in a safe place and never leave it unattended even for a moment.
  • Load your firearm only when you intend to fire it.
Storing Firearms
  • Always empty the ammunition from your firearm prior to storing.
  • Use a barrel lock, trigger lock, cylinder lock or a locking firearm case, or keep your firearm in a locked gun safe.
  • Store ammunition separately, in a locked container, away from the firearm, heat and moisture.
  • Never throw ammunition in the trash.
  • Carry the keys for the gun and ammunition containers with you at all times or keep them locked in a spot that only you know.
  • Never store a gun under a mattress or pillow, or on top of a bedside table.
  • To help ensure that your firearm does not end up in the hands of a criminal, don't store it among valuables such as jewelry where it might be stolen.
Where, When, How and Who
  • Nearly all childhood unintentional shooting deaths occur in or near the home.
  • Most childhood unintentional shooting deaths involve guns that have been kept loaded and accessible to children and occur when children play with loaded guns.
  • Children as young as three are strong enough to pull the trigger of many of the handguns sold in the United States.
  • Unintentional shootings among children occur most often when children are unsupervised and out of school.
  • Shootings in rural areas are more likely to occur outdoors with a shotgun or rifle; shootings in urban areas are more likely to occur indoors and with a handgun.
Proven Interventions
  • Two safety devices, gun locks and load indicators, could prevent a significant percentage of unintentional firearm deaths.
  • Gun design changes can prevent unintentional firearm death and injury in children; every unintentional shooting by a child under age 5 years who either killed him/herself or another could have been prevented with the installation of a safety device.
  • Hospital treatment costs, on average, $28,000 per child for a firearm-related injury.
  • A study of all direct and indirect costs of gun violence including medical, lost wages, and security costs estimates that gun violence costs the nation $100 billion a year.

Minnesota Medical Association
Children's Safety Network
Safe Kids Worldwide
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Contact the South Dakota Safety Council at
or phone 605-361-7785 or 1-800-952-5539.