The Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District is promoting safe firearm storage to prevent unintentional injury and reduce suicide risk. The health district is offering universal trigger locks to all households who have firearms. Once secured, these locks block trigger access to prevent anyone who doesn’t know the combination from operating the weapon. The locks are designed to work on rifles, handguns and shotguns.
Universal trigger locks are available in the health district’s clinics and offices, including the Orange County Health Department at 450 North Madison Road, Orange; and the Orange County Environmental Health office at 128 W. Main St., Suite A, Orange. Offices are open from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. The trigger locks are free of charge; no questions asked. In addition, the health district is working with community partners, such as pediatricians, to distribute trigger locks.
Locks also are available at the Madison, Culpeper, Rappahannock and Fauquier offices.
According to A Year in Review: 2020 Gun Deaths in the U.S. from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, firearm injury was the leading cause of death among children, teens, and young adults under age 25. In addition, every 2.5 days a child or teen was killed by an unintentional gun injury.
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Most firearm injuries do not involve a mass shooting, yet 214,000 children at 216 schools experienced firearm injury between 1999 and 2018. In cases where the source of the gun could be determined, more than 80% of shooters brought them from their own homes or obtained them from friends or relatives.
Safe firearm storage is one way to help prevent unintentional injury and reduce suicide risk by preventing access to weapons in the home. From 2011-2015, more than 60 percent of the suicides in the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District were committed by firearms. Those suicides account for more than 80 percent of the firearm deaths in the district during that period.
The American Academy of Pediatrics supports trigger locks as a best practice and says that safe storage and preventing access to guns may reduce injury by as much as 70%. The National Rifle Association (NRA) also supports storing guns so that they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
For more information about the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District, visit rrhd.org.