Americans Still Not Safely Storing Their Guns

From - February 22, 2018

Americans Still Not Safely Storing Their Guns

THURSDAY, Feb. 22, 2018 -- With the deadly mass shooting at a Florida school once again putting U.S. gun violence in the spotlight, a new survey finds that more than half of American gun owners do not safely store all their firearms.

Safe storage means keeping guns in a locked gun safe, cabinet or case, locked into a gun rack or stored with a trigger lock or other lock, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who did the survey.

Their poll of 1,444 gun owners nationwide found that 54 percent did not store all their guns safely.

"The survey findings indicate a real public health emergency," said lead author Cassandra Crifasi, an assistant professor at the school's Center for Gun Policy and Research.

"Household gun ownership can increase the risk of homicides, suicide and unintentional shootings in the home, but practicing safe storage for all guns reduces these risks," Crifasi said in a Hopkins news release.

The survey was conducted in early 2016, and the findings were published Feb. 22 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Children were present in 34 percent of homes with guns, the survey found. When that was the case, gun owners were more likely to follow safe storage procedures. About 55 percent of these gun owners said they stored all their guns safely.

In 2016, the researchers noted, the deaths of 1,637 children were attributed to guns. Suicide accounted for 39 percent of those deaths. States with laws that require gun owners to ensure that children do not have unauthorized access to guns had fewer teen suicides.

Studies have also shown that safe gun storage is associated with a lower risk of self-inflicted gun injuries among teens, the researchers said.

Factors that influenced gun storage practices, according to the survey, included:

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