Personal Safety

Gun Safety 101: 4 Rules, Everytown, Statistics, Preventing School Shootings, & More

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Gun and bullet on table (caption: Guide to Gun Safety)

This article was consulted on by Julie Fritz, an active volunteer for a local arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country. Everytown does comprehensive research on gun violence and makes recommendations on how we can all make our communities safer. Her involvement with this organization has given her invaluable information about how to keep our kids safe.

Amid the staggering numbers of gun-related fatalities that occur in the U.S. every year, there are many ways you can own guns and still maintain safe practices to protect you, your family and your community from these unnecessary incidents.

Knowing how to practice gun safety is key, but it’s also important to know how having guns in your home that aren’t secure can affect all of us. We’ve compiled some shooting statistics and safety tips to help you make the smartest decisions when it comes to guns.

Article Overview

Gun Injuries & Fatalities In The U.S.

Gun violence is a media hotbed these days, for many good reasons. But while the media tends to focus on mass shootings and police-related shootings (the headline makers), there are many other statistics that are important for gun owners to know.

Overall Gun-Related Deaths

There were 49,000 gun deaths in 2021 in the U.S., up by more than 3,500 from the previous year (the latest stats from the CDC). Data from the Pew Research Center has the split of homicide vs suicide in 2020 at 43% and 54%, respectively.

Children & Teens

  • Car crashes were the leading cause of death in children (aged 1-19) for 60 years. That changed in 2020 when gun deaths overtook that position as the leading cause of fatalities in children.
  • Although mass shootings, which have drastically increased over the past 30 years, are clearly part of the problem, the vast majority of kids are killed by guns in smaller, day-to-day incidents.


In the last several years, nearly two-thirds of annual gun-related deaths have been due to suicide. And this number keeps rising. It’s a sobering statistic for sure, but it speaks volumes about the importance of practicing gun safety at home, first and foremost.

Accidental Shootings

While unintentional shootings saw a decline from 2016 – 2018, they rose back to record levels in 2020. These statistics highlight the importance of gun safety.

How To Practice Gun Safety At Home

If you own handguns, rifles or other types of firearms, gun safety starts at home. It’s also important to teach your kids about gun safety.

Gun Safe under deskInvest In A Gun Safe

Having a secure gun safe at home to store your handguns and hunting rifles is one of the best ways to practice gun safety. We recommend the best gun safes that can help you secure all of your firearms from curious kids and home intruders — and protect your guns from fire and water damage. Our reviews cover security measures, ease of access, pricing and other factors to give you the most secure and affordable options available on the market.

Kid reaching in drawer for gun (caption: The Importance Of Gun Safety For Kids)Gun Safety For Kids

How do you begin to keep your children safe from the prevalence of guns in the U.S.? It’s a question many of us parents ask ourselves every day. If you worry about this for your kids — and you should — we recommend reading our article about gun safety for kids.

4 Rules Of Gun Safety

The four rules of gun safety according to the NSSF are:

  1. Always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction – never point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot. This is particularly important when loading or unloading a firearm. In the event of an accidental discharge, no injury can occur as long as the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction. A safe direction means a direction in which a bullet cannot possibly strike anyone, taking into account possible ricochets and the fact that bullets can penetrate walls and ceilings. The safe direction may be “up” on some occasions or “down” on others, but never at anything not intended as a target. Even when “dry firing” with an unloaded gun, you should never point the gun at an unsafe target. Make it a habit to know exactly where the muzzle of your gun is pointing at all times, and be sure that you are in control of the direction the muzzle is pointing, even if you fall or stumble. This is your responsibility, and only you can control it.
  2. Treat all guns as though they are loaded – by treating every firearm as if it is loaded, a habit of safety is developed. Firearms should be loaded only when you are in the field or on the target range or shooting area, ready to shoot. Whenever you handle a firearm, or hand it to someone, always open the action immediately, and visually check the chamber, receiver and magazine to be certain they do not contain any ammunition. Always keep actions open when not in use. Never assume a gun is unloaded — check for yourself! This is considered a mark of an experienced gun handler.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot – never touch the trigger on a firearm until you actually intend to shoot. Keep your fingers away from the trigger while loading or unloading. Never pull the trigger on any firearm with the safety on the “safe” position or anywhere in between “safe” and “fire.” It is possible that the gun can fire at any time, or even later when you release the safety, without you ever touching the trigger again.
  4. Always be sure of your target and what’s beyond it – don’t shoot unless you know exactly what your shot is going to strike. Be sure that your bullet will not injure anyone or anything beyond your target. Be aware that even a .22 short bullet can travel over 1 1/4 miles and a high velocity cartridge, such as a .30-06, can send its bullet more than three miles. Shotgun pellets can travel 500 yards, and shotgun slugs have a range of over half a mile. You should keep in mind how far a bullet will travel if it misses your intended target or ricochets in another direction.

How To Help Prevent School Shootings

Police entering classroom with guns (caption: How To Prevent School Shootings)While gun safety starts at home, there’s much more you can do as a parent or a concerned citizen to help keep our children and teens safe from guns. Our article on how to prevent school shootings has a wealth of tips and resources on how you can get involved with local schools and with regional and national organizations that are devoted to reducing the incidences of school shootings.

Tip: Consider A Stun Gun Or Taser

A safe way to protect yourself when you’re at home or out alone is by arming yourself with a stun gun or taser, rather than a firearm that an attacker could use against you with fatal consequences. We review some of the most reliable and affordable stun guns and tasers for you to consider.

Sally Jones

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations, Sally began a long career researching and writing about hard-to-understand topics, such as insurance and finance. Her additional experience in marketing, fundraising, public relations and financial planning at various foundations and nonprofit organizations over the years has given her the practical tools to inform consumers about making the smartest business and personal financial decisions. Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more. Speaking of smart living — growing up in the (at-the-time) per-capita murder capital of the U.S. (Richmond, VA) taught her a thing or two about the need for personal and home safety. Sally stays on top of all the latest gadgets and services to protect her and her teenage daughters from potential predators and thieves. And she brings this knowledge to every article she writes.

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