Injury and Violence Prevention Branch

Firearm Safety Awareness and Education

4.6 million children live in homes where guns are unlocked and loaded This page is dedicated to providing data on firearm-related injuries and death in North Carolina, information about firearm safe storage and how this protects children and youth from firearm-related deaths and injuries, and resources and tools that individuals and communities can use.

After viewing this page, if you find yourself needing more information on firearm-related injuries, please review the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch data request policies and procedures for steps on how to make a custom data request.

Public Health Approaches to Reduce Violence and Firearm Injury

Keeping Families and Communities Safe: Public Health Approaches to Reduce Violence and Firearm Misuse Leading to Injury and Death Keeping Families and Communities Safe: Public Health Approaches to Reduce Violence and Firearm Misuse Leading to Injury and Death

This report addresses public health strategies to increase community and family safety from firearm violence and misuse in a new plan focused on implementing public health actions to reduce firearm injury and death.

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 Recommendations on Firearm Safety for Suicide Prevention

  The Importance of Firearm Safe Storage

Safe storage of firearms reduces unintentional death, injury, and hospitalization. Additionally, when firearms are stored safely, they are less available as a means of suicide or intentional harm to others. This is especially true for children and youth.

Reduce Death, Injury, Hospitalization to Children and Youth

Children are naturally curious and seek to learn about their environment through touch and play. Unfortunately, when a child or children find an unlocked and loaded firearm, they can unintentionally hurt themselves or someone else nearby. Keeping firearms unloaded and locked away using a cable lock or placing them in lock boxes or gun safes can prevent injuries and death resulting from curiosity and play.

Reduce Suicide

"Many suicide attempts are hastily decided-upon and involve little or no planning. The particular means chosen for a suicide attempt may determine whether one who attempts suicide lives or dies. Access to firearms is a risk factor for suicide. 90% of those who attempt suicide and survive do not go on to die by suicide later. Firearms used in youth suicide usually belong to a parent. Reducing access to lethal means saves lives. (Means Matter)" 1

Nine out of 10 suicide attempts using a firearm are lethal.2

Reduce Violence

Safe firearm storage can also prevent children and youth from accessing firearms and using them to injure or kill others.

  NC Safe Storage Law

The North Carolina law that concerns safe storage of firearms is §14-315.1. This law is referred to as the NC Safe Storage Law and states:

§ 14-315.1. Storage of firearms to protect minors.

(a) Any person who resides in the same premises as a minor, owns or possesses a firearm, and stores or leaves the firearm (i) in a condition that the firearm can be discharged and (ii) in a manner that the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised minor would be able to gain access to the firearm, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if a minor gains access to the firearm without the lawful permission of the minor's parents or a person having charge of the minor and the minor:

(1) Possesses it in violation of G.S. 14-269.2(b);
(2) Exhibits it in a public place in a careless, angry, or threatening manner;
(3) Causes personal injury or death with it not in self defense; or
(4) Uses it in the commission of a crime.

(b) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a person from carrying a firearm on his or her body, or placed in such close proximity that it can be used as easily and quickly as if carried on the body.

(c) This section shall not apply if the minor obtained the firearm as a result of an unlawful entry by any person.

(d) "Minor" as used in this section means a person under 18 years of age who is not emancipated. (1993, c. 558, s. 2; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 14, s. 11.)

What does the law mean?

Gun owners who live with a person under the age of 18 (a minor) must make sure that the minor does not gain access to the firearm. This law speaks to the need to safely store firearms to avoid injury and death.

  Data on Firearm-Related Deaths and Injuries

NC-FASTER: Firearm Injury Surveillance Through Emergency Rooms

Launched in 2020, the CDC’s Firearm Injury Surveillance Through Emergency Rooms (FASTER) program has provided funding to 10 states, including North Carolina. NC-FASTER is a collaboration between the NC Division of Public Health Injury and Violence Prevention Branch and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Injury Prevention Research Center and the Carolina Center for Health Informatics in the Department of Emergency Medicine. It provides surveillance data in near-real time on emergency department visits for nonfatal firearm injuries.

NC-FASTER helps address important gaps in timely data availability for nonfatal firearm injuries. Timely reporting at state- and local-levels through FASTER allows states and communities to detect surges in violence, understand trends in firearm injuries by certain demographic characteristics, and facilitate rapid and focused public health prevention and response.

NC-FASTER releases quarterly fact sheets with provisional data on nonfatal firearm injury related Emergency Department visits to inform the work of prevention and response partners across the state, which are available on the NC DETECT website.

NC-FASTER Quarterly Data Updates

These reports provide updates on emergency department visit trends for nonfatal firearm injuries in NC. Updates will be posted quarterly.

More detailed information on NC-FASTER activities is available in the NC-FASTER Annual Data Reports.

For additional information not included in these reports, please contact: Siarra Scott, NC-FASTER Project Manager, UNC IPRC,

Overall Data on Firearm-Related Deaths and Injuries in North Carolina

Data on Firearm-Related Deaths and Injuries

State Firearm Injury ORION Reports

These ORION reports provide statewide data from 2017-2021 on firearm injury deaths, hospitalizations, and ED visits by sex, age, and race/ethnicity. Reports are available by injury intent, including unintentional, self-inflicted, and assault, as well as firearm injuries of all intents.

County Firearm Injury ORION Reports

These ORION reports include county-level data from 2017-2021 on firearm injury deaths, hospitalizations, and ED visits by sex, age, and race/ethnicity.

Special Emphasis Reports: Firearm Injuries

The Firearm Injury Special Emphasis Report provides a factual overview of the impact and magnitude of firearm injury by age, gender, and race/ethnicity in North Carolina. This report also includes information on firearm injury prevention strategies and activities occurring in our state.

Firearm-Related Deaths

2020 Firearm Deaths in North Carolina

Firearm-Related Hospitalizations

Firearm-Related Emergency Department Visits

County-Level Firearm Data Tables

See the dashboard below for firearm injury and death data.

This table includes the most recent finalized data from 2017 to present on firearm injuries and deaths among NC residents. If additional years of data are needed, please submit a data request.

To navigate the dashboard, use the filter boxes next to the table.

  • The Source box allows you to switch between death certificate data, hospitalization data, Emergency Department (ED) visit data coded for firearm injury, and NC FASTER ED visit syndromic data.
    • ED visit data include injury ED visits with an ICD-10-CM diagnosis code for firearm injury.
    • NC-FASTER syndromic surveillance data include injury ED visits with an ICD-10-CM diagnosis code for firearm injury, or mention of a firearm injury as a chief complaint of the visit. Firearm injuries are flagged using free text search for key terms in the chief complaint input by the provider, for example “GSW” OR “Gunshot” OR “gun shot.” For more information on NC DETECT or the full NC-FASTER syndromic surveillance definition, visit
  • The Data Type box allows you to display either counts by county and year, or rates per 100,000 by county and year.
  • The Intent box allows you to filter the data by firearm injury intent: Assault, Unintentional, Legal Intervention, Self-Inflicted, Undetermined, or Unknown (for ED Syndromic data only).

    Note: Intent coding in the ED visit data is inaccurate and in need of improvement for firearm injury tracking. There is an overcount of unintentional firearm injuries and an undercount of undetermined and intentional injuries, such as assault and self-harm. ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes for “Undetermined” intent are assigned as “Unknown”.

  • Use the check-box menu below County if you wish to only view a single county, or a specific selection of counties. Uncheck “All” and then select your counties of choice.

Data on Firearm-Related Deaths and Injuries to Children and Youth in North Carolina

Firearm-Related Deaths



Firearm-Related Hospitalizations

Firearm-Related Emergency Department Visits

For more information, please see the presentation Firearm Deaths and Injuries among Youth in North Carolina (PDF, 1.4 MB).

Data on Safe Storage of Firearms in North Carolina

U.S. Firearm Safe Storage Data

NC Firearm Safe Storage Data

Guns used in American mass school shootings often come from home.3

For More Information

  How to Obtain a Free or Discounted Gun Lock

If you would like to receive a Safety Kit which includes a free cable-style gun lock and safety instructions, please contact the Project ChildSafe affiliated department or office closest to your home.

  A Toolkit for Communities to Use for Firearm Safety Education and Awareness

The following is a guide and supporting materials to help you create a gun safety team in your community, a crucial first step to local firearm safety education and awareness. Thank you to the Durham County Gun Safety Team for making these excellent resources available to the public.

  Additional Resources

There are many issues related to firearm safety; here are some categories and resources to help.

NC Child Fatality Task Force, Firearm Safety Stakeholders' Group

In 2017, a diverse group of stakeholders interested in keeping children and youth safe met to discuss ways to promote safe storage of firearms.

Hunter Education

Suicide Prevention

Domestic Violence

Other Resources


Last Modified: 03-01-2024