TRENTON, July 12, 2023 — In 2020 firearm-related injuries surpassed automobile accidents to become the leading cause of death among children and adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  That finding, among others, prompted the New Jersey School Boards Association to convene a task force, which researched the topic and released a special report, Firearms Safety: Processes, Programs and Practices for Safety in School, Home and Community. The report focuses on strategies to keep children safe from firearms.

The NJSBA Firearms Safety Task Force, which began its work in December 2022, was made up of local board of education members and experts from law enforcement, education and traumatic loss and counseling.

In its work, the Task Force reviewed data and research on firearm deaths and injuries; the impact of children’s exposure to violence; effective strategies to protect children from accidental injury; safe gun storage, handling and use; firearm acquisition and licensing; and school- and community-based partnerships that address students’ mental and emotional health.

The NJSBA task force recognized the need to further protect the children in our communities and offer local boards of education and municipalities recommendations and suggested actions that reflect strategies endorsed by child welfare organizations, gun-owner groups, the medical community, experts in public health, education organizations and other advocates.

The Association believes the answer to the problem partly lies in local boards of education collaborating with parents, students and the community at large to promote firearm safety, prevent gun violence and address the physical and emotional toll that such violence has on our children.

The Task Force believes that this report can serve as the center of an information effort at the state and community levels to promote firearm safety, reduce gun violence and address its impact on children.  It further believes this report can be embraced by communities because it steers clear of the politics that often enters debates about gun violence, and focuses on workable options to ensure firearm safety. NJSBA is not aware of any other report quite like It.

Sample of Findings 

Based on its research, the Task Force found that:

  • In 2020, firearm-related injuries surpassed automobile accidents to become the leading cause of death among children and adolescents, according to the CDC.
  • 3,597 children died by gunfire in 2021, according to provisional statistics from the CDC, reported in The New York Times.
  • During the same period, 1,078 children died by suicide, nearly 30% — of child gun deaths, according to statistics from Everytown for Gun Safety, a nationwide organization that promotes firearms safety, cited by The New York Times.
  • An estimated 4.6 million American children live in households with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm, reports a 2022 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • Between 2015 and 2020, there were at least 2,070 unintentional shootings by children that resulted in 765 deaths and 1,366 nonfatal injuries, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.
  • In 2020 alone, at least 125 children ages 5 and under shot themselves or someone else.

Focus of recommendations To address its findings, the Task Force identified programs in place in New Jersey public schools and reviewed data, reports and literature in the areas specified by the Task Force charge, including the impact of gun violence on children and adolescents; practices to promote firearm safety, including safe firearm storage; violence prevention strategies; trauma and mental health; and resources available from nationwide organizations.

The task force urges boards of education and municipalities to review the report and determine those strategies that will best enhance safety in their communities.

The NJSBA Firearms Safety Task Force Report: Process, Programs and Practices for Safety in School, Home and Community can be accessed at