Child Access Prevention Laws

Guns in homes pose a clear risk to the safety of children, especially when guns are not stored safely or securely; tragic unintentional shootings and youth suicides occur far too often.  CAP laws hold gun owners accountable for safe storage of their firearms and helps prevent guns from falling into young hands.

  • 75% of guns used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional injuries are stored in the residence of the victim, relative or a friend.
  • 1/3 of handguns are kept loaded and unlocked, and most children know where their parents keep their guns-even if the parents think otherwise.
  • There are no federal level CAP laws. Each state determines its own laws.  27 states and D.C. have enacted some form of CAP law. There are a variety of forms ranging from imposing criminal liability when a child gains access to unsecured guns, to only when the child uses the firearm and causes death or injury.

Evaluation:

  • CAP laws have been shown to be effective at reducing youth suicides and accidental shootings.
  • One study showed that of twelve states where CAP laws had been in effect for at least one year, unintentional firearm deaths fell by 23% among children under age fifteen.
  • Researchers found that CAP laws were associated with an 8.3% decrease in suicides among children ages 14-17.

For More Information:
Rand Corporation, “The Effects of Child Access Prevention Laws”
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Child Access Prevention”