NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®) this year marks the 20th anniversary of its Project ChildSafe® program, which has increased awareness of safe firearms handling and storage practices among millions of gun owners, helped reduce accidental firearms deaths to historic lows and become an indispensable firearms safety education resource for partners in every state and the U.S. territories.
“The No. 1 objective of Project ChildSafe has always been saving lives by urging gun owners to store their firearms responsibly when not in use, and giving them the tools to do it,” said NSSF CEO Steve Sanetti.
Those tools include educational materials and more than 38 million free gun locks that have been distributed by a network of thousands of partners from law enforcement, fish and wildlife agencies, conservation groups, firearms retailers, gun ranges, the faith community, tribal organizations, Boy Scouts of America chapters, 4-H and other groups nationwide.
Project ChildSafe has made a meaningful impact on safety nationwide. Annual reports from the National Safety Council show fatal firearms accidents are trending toward the lowest numbers since data collection began, and recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show fatal firearms accidents represent less than half of a percent of all accidental deaths in the U.S.
Further evidence of the program’s value can be measured in the ongoing demand for the gun locks, which currently outpaces supply by almost five to one. Equally compelling are the qualitative assessments from the National Safety Council, GAO and RAND:
· In a 2017 report, the GAO concluded that providing free locking devices positively influenced behavior to store firearms more safely.
· In 2018, Project ChildSafe was named a finalist for the National Safety Council’s Green Cross for Safety Awards, in the category of “Excellence in Safety.”
· In 2019, the RAND Corporation (conducting research for the National Institute of Justice), noted that Project ChildSafe is the only program that offers freely available gun locks at a national level, and in the context of the GAO findings, concluded that Project ChildSafe is a “noteworthy component of national efforts to improve safe storage.”
Project ChildSafe, which originally launched as “Project HomeSafe” in 1999 in five cities across the country, has marked a number of other successes over the years, some of which can be viewed in annual reports on the Project ChildSafe website under the Resources section.
Joe Bartozzi, who became NSSF’s President in 2018, says these results are a good start and certainly not the end of the Project ChildSafe story.
“While we can look back proudly on 20 years of tremendous results, we’re also looking to the future and ensuring that the number of accidental firearms deaths keeps declining and that responsible storage is synonymous with gun ownership,” Bartozzi said. “I’ve always been a huge supporter of Project ChildSafe and look forward to continuing that work.”
That “work” on keeping firearms out of the wrong hands includes building on current partnerships with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Veteran’s Administration to help address firearms and suicide, and working with other partners to help curb firearms thefts, especially from vehicles. “Nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in the U.S are suicides, and when you look at crimes involving guns across the country, the vast majority of them involve stolen guns,” Bartozzi said. “The importance of storing firearms responsibly as a means to help prevent suicide and gun crime cannot be overstated.”
It’s also noteworthy that while NSSF is leading the effort with Project ChildSafe, it’s getting plenty of help.
“It’s the support from the entire industry – manufacturers, retailers, gun ranges and hunting and shooting organizations that drives the Project ChildSafe message,” said Bill Brassard, NSSF Senior Director of Communications, who has been with the program since its inception. “In just the past five years, more than 9,000 organizations have signed on to help Project ChildSafe emphasize the importance of safe storage to gun owners.”
In addition to the firearms industry funding the program over the last two decades, NSSF has been the recipient of numerous federal and state grants, special contributions from industry companies and public giving to expand Project ChildSafe’s messaging on gun safety. To help the program meet demand for its safety materials in the future, the Project ChildSafe Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity, was formed to accept donations in support of Project ChildSafe’s firearms safety efforts.
More information about Project ChildSafe can be found at projectchildsafe.org or by visiting NSSF’s website.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.