Over 1,500 patients were treated for firearms injuries at our Elvis Presley Trauma Center last year.

Our experts say many of these injuries are preventable, and they’re reaching out to raise awareness about gun safety.

We’ve partnered with Be Smart to share tips on safe gun storage, modeling responsible behavior, and how to talk to others about injury prevention.

Firearm injury was the second most common type of injury treated at our Elvis Presley Trauma Center last year, behind only injuries related to automobile accidents.

With that in mind, our trauma experts are reaching out to encourage all gun owners to promote safety and prevent injury by storing their weapons safely.

Geretta Hollins, Community Outreach and Injury Prevention Program Coordinator for Burn and Trauma Services, said responsible gun ownership helps protect not only your loved ones, but the entire community.

“Unfortunately, when weapons are not stored safely, it can lead to increased risk of suicide, homicides and unintentional firearm injuries. Ultimately, safe and secure gun storage prevents firearms from falling into the wrong hands,” she explained. “When we protect our loved ones from the dangers of gun violence, the whole community stands to benefit.”

Hollins said the Elvis Presley Trauma Center treated 1,555 individuals for firearm related injuries in 2023, and gun violence has been recognized as a public health issue across the country.

Fortunately, she said, these injuries are often preventable when safe ownership is prioritized.

“We’ve partnered with ‘Be SMART,’ a national public awareness campaign that emphasizes the importance of responsible gun ownership and secure gun storage,” Hollins said.

“‘Be SMART’ is a framework that parents, caretakers, and community leaders can follow to help keep their communities safe.”

Talk to friends and family about firearms safety. It’s important to know if other homes you visit have unsecured weapons and to model responsible behavior around young people.

The “Be SMART’ model focuses on the following messaging:

  • S – Secure all firearms in your home and vehicles
  • M – Model responsible behavior around firearms
  • A – Ask about the presence of unsecured firearms in other homes
  • R – Recognize the role of firearms in suicide
  • T – Tell your peers to “Be SMART”

Hollins explained how everyone can do their part to follow those recommendations.

According to Be SMART, “Secure gun storage solutions are not ‘one-size-fits-all.’ One type of storage that may work for one gun owner may not work for another. The best kind of gun storage is the type or types that you will use consistently.”

Options include full-size gun safes, smaller lockboxes or lockers, vehicle consoles or safes, gun cases, cable locks and trigger locks. These come at various price points and in various styles.

Along with safe storage, it’s important to model responsible behavior and have conversations with young people about gun safety.

Kids and teens are curious but may not realize the dangers guns can pose if used irresponsibly. Have open, age-appropriate conversations with young people, and be cognizant about modeling responsible gun ownership when around young people.

Safe gun storage can help prevent injuries. There are plenty of options, including safes, lockboxes, and trigger locks.

Don’t feel awkward about asking other parents if there are guns in homes your children spend time in. Think of it like explaining a food allergy or asking if another family has pets – it’s just one more way to keep your children safe.

Finally, do your part to encourage others to take smart, responsible steps to store firearms safely to protect their friends and families and the community.

“Everyone has a role to play in mitigating the crisis,” Hollins said. “We can all help to promote awareness about responsible gun ownership and how to keep our community safe.”

The Elvis Presley Trauma Center is the only Level-1 Trauma Center in a 150-mile radius of Memphis. A multispecialty team of experts is available 24/7 to treat the most critically injured patients from Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and parts of Missouri.

The Firefighters Burn Center is the only full-service burn center in 400 miles of Memphis that is verified by the American Burn Association. It provides comprehensive care including emergency and critical care, intensive care, specialized burn rehabilitation, and laser and plastic surgery.

Learn more about our burn and trauma services at www.regionalonehealth.org/firefighters-burn-center/ and www.regionalonehealth.org/main-campus/regional-medical-center/elvis-presley-trauma-center/ For more information on Be SMART, click on https://besmartforkids.org/