Annapolis, MD – May 1, 2020 – Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence (MPGV) has launched Maryland’s first-ever online map identifying locations for safe firearm storage outside homes to help community members who voluntarily seek local options to store their firearms.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, national gun sales are increasing and there’s been a surge in first-time gun owners. With more people at home for longer periods due to the pandemic, these firearms can present serious safety risks for individuals in the household, especially if the firearm isn’t stored safely. Increased mental distress of social isolation and economic instability also has implications for the risk of suicide and domestic violence.
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The map, found at mdsafegunstorage.org, currently lists more than 30 businesses throughout Maryland that can provide temporary, voluntary firearms storage. These locations include law enforcement agencies and gun stores.
“We applaud the businesses that have joined this mapping project for their foresight and involvement in keeping our communities safe,” said Elizabeth Banach, executive director of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence. “It’s critical to the safety of our communities that individuals have safe and secure places to store their firearms. This map will provide a valuable resource to community members wishing to protect themselves or their loved ones.”
Previous research shows safe storage—storing a firearm unloaded and separate from ammunition, with a locking device, or in a safe—can greatly reduce unintentional injury and suicide, especially in children. Firearms are the most lethal means of suicide and in Maryland, over 40 percent of completed suicides involve a firearm.
The safe firearm storage map was developed in collaboration with students from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The students used their master of public health practicum to contact business owners about possible participation and worked with MPGV to develop the map.
Before the students undertook their project, it wasn’t clear how many organizations in Maryland offered voluntary, temporary firearm storage. Nor was there a resource that publicly listed organizations that offer this service.
Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence hopes that the map can offer a valuable resource for Marylanders in the midst of a crisis.
Individuals who may feel unsafe with a firearm in the house and are looking for temporary storage may contact the business or law enforcement agencies listed on the map directly for further information.
Businesses or law enforcement agencies that are interested in being listed on this map should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you or someone you know needs support, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255(TALK). Help and hope are available.