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Gun Safety Matters Challenge

Posted October 22, 2017

A safely stored firearm can mean the difference between a tragic outcome and a life saved. Though many Veterans are well-versed in gun safety, all Veterans and their families should understand how to properly handle and store firearms to prevent suicide, injury or accidents. 

An average of twenty Veterans die by suicide each day.  In 2014, roughly 67% of all Veteran deaths by suicide were the result of firearm injuries. Statistics for that year also show that about 65% of all Veterans who die by suicide are age 50 or older. Compared to their age-matched civilian peers, both male and female Veterans have an increased risk for suicide. Research suggests that most suicidal crises pass within minutes to hours, and that building in time and space between a suicidal impulse and access to a gun reduces suicide deaths.

In response, the VA Challenge Team has been given the authority to seek solutions through an Innovation Challenge.  The Gun Safety Challenge invites proposals for solutions that offer new options for enhanced safe gun storage to prevent suicide, injury and accidents.


NineSigma, representing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, seeks novel and effective approaches that offer enhanced gun safety mechanisms to prevent suicide, injury, and accidents.

Specifically, the VA is seeking cost-effective options for a tangible device or system to be used voluntarily by a Veteran or trusted friend or family member. The device or system must allow for 100% voluntary control (implementation, suspension, decommissioning) by the Veteran. The goal is to provide safe firearm storage within or outside the home.

Approaches that address emotional distress or crisis, especially for those individuals who may not have a secondary support system such as family members or friends nearby, or who do not have the means for storing their guns safely are of interest. The desired outcome of this challenge is for ideas of systems or devices that provide enhanced gun safety features or storage.

Please refer to the Challenge Summary for more details.


Winning proposals will receive cash prizes in the following amounts:

  • First Prize – up to $30,000
  • Second Prize – up to $20,000
  • Third Prize – up to $10,000

Additional non-cash incentives may include:

  • Access to VA resources, such as Subject Matter Experts, for any potential follow-on design and development.
  • Recognition across VA media streams to highlight the winning concepts/design.


Successful solutions will:

  • Be a tangible, implementable solution that effectively deters suicide, injury, and accidents by firearm and creates a safer environment via a voluntary, autonomous device or system
  • Be inexpensive
  • Be applicable for use in a home or residence
  • Be easy to implement
  • Not impede responsible access of a weapon
  • Provide education for gun users and their families and friends about safe practices known to prevent suicide attempts, injury or accidents.

Download the Challenge Summary for a full description of the Success Criteria.


Companies of all sizes, consultants, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, or inventors are invited to respond to this request.

Citizens or permanent residents of the US and its territories are eligible to participate.

Please submit a response via the online response form and include the following:

  • A description of the proposed approach, including a discussion of any technical aspects that enable an effective prevention mechanism for the use of a gun in a suicide attempt.
  • Any data or evidence to show or support the effectiveness of the approach in its current capability
  • Availability of samples, prototypes, or demonstration of proposed technology
  • Supporting data to show fit to stated criteria for the approach
  • Experience of the submitter or submission team in the proposed technology field

Must submit at least one entry by 5:00pm Eastern Time on January 8, 2018 to be eligible. Must be 18 years of age or older, and a citizen or permanent resident of the US or its territories in order to participate.  See the Official Challenge Rules for details. 


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