Guns often stored unsafely in U.S. homes, CDC survey suggests

Many firearm owners in the United States do not safely store their weapons, even when the weapon is loaded and there are children in the home, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, which was based on 2021 and 2022 data from eight states, found that many gun owners kept their guns unlocked and loaded in their homes despite rising rates of gun suicide and gun deaths. firearms among children.

Gun storage practices varied across the eight states: Alaska, California, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Oklahoma.

Of those surveyed in Ohio who had both children and a loaded gun in the home, about a quarter said the gun was kept open; it was the smallest percentage among the seven states with available data for that metric. In Alaska, more than 40% of respondents fall into this category.

Across all eight states, about half of respondents who reported loading firearms in their homes said at least one loaded gun was kept open, a finding consistent with similar studies of firearm storage behavior.

The number of children dying by suicide has been increasing for more than a decade. In 2022, gun suicides among children reached the highest rate in more than 20 years, which public health experts and advocacy groups have largely attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic and rising sales of weapons.

Fewer children are killed by accidental gunshots each year, which often happens while playing with the gun or showing it to a friend. A 2023 CDC report on unintentional firearm deaths among children found that the gun involved was often loaded and opened on a nightstand.

“Storing a firearm out of sight or out of reach is not safe firearm storage,” said Thomas Simon, study author and researcher in the CDC's Division of Violence Prevention.

“One father told me he didn’t even know his son knew he kept his firearm in the closet until he found the body of his 15-year-old son who committed suicide.”

Dr. Frederick Rivara, who studies childhood injuries and injury prevention at the University of Washington, said the risk of youth gun suicide is much lower in homes where guns are unloaded and locked compared to families where guns are kept less safe.

Children who live in families without firearms in the home are at the lowest risk of gun suicide, a study finds.

Jennifer Stuber, a public health researcher at the University of Washington who studies suicide prevention, said people often keep guns unsecured for easy access in case of a home invasion. According to a 2023 Pew study, protection is the primary reason most U.S. gun owners keep a firearm.

That often makes efforts to encourage gun owners to keep their firearms unloaded and locked up — as recommended by several groups, including the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Department of Veterans Affairs — a tough sell, he said .

Dr. Stuber said she believes people often increase the risk of someone attacking them with a gun and underestimate the chances that their gun will kill a loved one.

“I don't think they really understand the risks,” he said. “People don’t think their firearms will ever be used to commit suicide until they are in that place.”

Instead of trying to convince gun owners to stop worrying about self-defense, a better solution, he said, might be to improve access to “quick-access locks,” which make it easier and quicker for people unlock weapons if they need them. .

You're not trying to change the idea of ​​home defense,” he said. “I think it's possible to do that, but it's harder than just giving someone a technological solution.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *