By Russ Thurman
There are a record number of gun owners in the United States and the number is increasing. Many of these consumers are first-time gun owners who never handled a firearm until they walked into a gun shop.
This is encouraging. Even in the face of the anti-gun lobby’s tactics, consumers are still exercising their Second Amendment rights. That’s good for our country and the industry. It also increases our responsibilities.
Gun safety has always been fundamentally linked to gun ownership. Most of us “veteran gunowners” learned gun safety at home because our families owned firearms. That is not always the case today and it’s often the exception. Now, the industry has an increasing responsibility to teach and exhibit proper gun handling and safety.
Aiming For Zero
In March, the National Safety Council released the 2017 edition of “Injury Facts.” The council reports a 17 percent decrease in firearm accidents from 2014 to 2015. The 489 unintentional firearms-related deaths in 2015 were the lowest since recordkeeping began in 1903. The report, NSSF points out, indicates the majority of firearms owners understand their responsibilities of firearms ownership.
“The many firearms safety educational programs sponsored by the firearms industry and firearms safety instructors nationwide, such as the NSSF’s Project ChildSafe, are also part of the reason for this ever-downward trend in firearms accidents,” said Steve Sanetti, NSSF president, CEO. Since 1999, through Project ChildSafe, NSSF has worked with over15,000 law enforcement agencies to distribute more than 37 million safety kits, which include a gunlock and safe gun handling and storage tips.
In April, NSSF launched Project ChildSafe Communities. The national initiative encourages responsible firearm ownership with an emphasis on secure firearm storage. Among the program’s goals: “Aiming for Zero” firearm accidents.
NSSF also sends a powerful safety message with “Own It? Respect It. Secure It.” This initiative encourages all industry-related businesses to display the program’s logo on product packaging, catalogs, advertising, signage, websites and social media platforms. If you aren’t taking part in this industry-wide program, now is the time to get involved. The message of responsibility and safety is clear, and you can help reinforce its impact on firearm consumers and, just as important, others in our nation.
For more information on NSSF safety programs, visit www.nssf.org/safety.
First And Foremost
Numerous companies promote firearm safety through a variety of programs. One garnering results is the annual “GLOCK Safety Pledge.” This June, in conjunction with National Safety Month, GLOCK called on gun owners to learn about firearm safety and pledge their commitment to #FollowTheFour. Those who shared a photo of their pledge on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, along with the #FollowTheFour hashtag, were automatically entered in a drawing for a GLOCK pistol.
The #FollowTheFour: (1) Treat all firearms as if they are loaded. (2) Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy. (3) Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you are ready to fire. (4) Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
Just 12 days into the campaign 8,197 people had taken the pledge.
“We believe that the first step to being a responsible gun owner is knowing how to handle your firearm safely. And as a firearms manufacturer and a leader in the industry, it is GLOCK’s first and foremost responsibility to teach and promote firearm safety to others,” said Josh Dorsey, GLOCK VP.
What We Do, We Teach
These and many other programs and campaigns are having a significant impact on increasing firearm safety.
Yes, there is good news to celebrate, but more can be done and we enthusiastically endorse NSSF’s program of “Aiming for Zero” when it comes to firearm accidents. This is a good time to take inventory of our safety messages and our own gun handling, with a regard to “what we do, we teach.”
Firearm safety is our first responsibility, the first “sell,” long before any product is offered. There is no justification for doing otherwise and the ROI is incalculable.