Fairfax County Police Department
Gun Safety Starts at Home
The Fairfax County Police Department has seen an increase in firearms related accidents which occur in residences. While we enjoy our freedom as US Citizens to own firearms, utmost safety should be exercised when handling firearms, especially at home. The Fairfax County Police Department would like to further promote this safety by giving citizens in Fairfax County safety tips when handling firearms in their home.
BASIC GUN SAFETY RULES FOR THE HOME
- Always treat guns as if they are loaded. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. Whether you are shooting or simply handling a gun, never point it at yourself or others. Common sense should dictate which direction is safest. In a single family or townhouse for example, the lowest floor of the residence such as the basement is generally the safest place to point the gun. Being mindful of the fact that a bullet can penetrate ceilings, floors, walls, windows and doors.
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. Whether loading or unloading a gun, rest your finger outside the trigger guard alongside the gun. Do not touch the trigger.
- Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. If you do not know how to check to see if a gun is unloaded, leave it alone. Carefully secure it, being certain to point it safely and to keep you finger off the trigger. Seek the advice of a person in the household who is knowledgeable in handling firearms for assistance.
- Keep firearms secured in approved gun lockers or safes. Keep ammunition separated. By separating ammunition from the firearm, it will further ensure safety in the household in case there is any unauthorized handling of the firearm. Gun locks are also encouraged as an added level of security.
In a home where guns are kept, an even higher degree of safety must be exercised when there are children in the household. It is critical that parents accept this responsibility to learn, practice and teach gun safety rules to ensure their children’s safety to a much greater extent.
Speak with your children about gun safety. Talking openly and honestly about gun safety with your child is usually more effective. Telling them to “stay out of the area of the house” may stimulate a child’s natural curiosity to investigate it further.
When giving a safety lesson to your children, explaining the rules and answering their questions will help remove the curiosity regarding guns. Any rules you set for your children to follow should also apply to any friends who visit the home.
It is also important to discuss the use of guns on television as opposed to gun use in real life. Firearms are often handled inappropriately or carelessly in movies and in television. Explain to the child the difference between real life results and what happens in a movie or television.
If you decide that your child is not ready to engage in this type of conversation, teach them to follow The NRA’s Eddie Eagle Gunsafe program instructions:
STOP! - DON’T TOUCH - Leave the Area - Tell an Adult.
Lastly, we would like to note a few code sections that relate to firearms in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
18.2-56.2 – Allowing access to firearms by children; penalty.
It shall be unlawful for any person to recklessly leave a loaded, unsecured firearm in such a manner as to endanger the life or limb of any child under the age of fourteen. Any person violating the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
18.2-56.1 - Reckless handling of firearms.
It shall be unlawful to for any person to handle recklessly any firearm as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person.
18.2-279 – Discharging firearms or missiles within or at building or dwelling house. If any person maliciously discharges a firearm within any building when occupied by one or more person in such a manner as to endanger the life or lives of such person or persons, or maliciously shoots at or throws any missile at or against any dwelling house or other building when occupied by one or more persons, whereby the life or lives of any such person or person may be put in peril, the person so is guilty of a Class 4 Felony.
The safety of our citizens we serve in Fairfax County is paramount. These safety tips are not intended as a complete course in gun safety and are not a substitute for formal qualified instruction in handling, the use or storage of firearms. These safety tips should be considered to minimize the chance of an accident occurring at home.
To request this information in an alternate format, call the Franconia District Station at 703.922.0889. TTY 711