More than half of gun owners do not safely store all their guns, according to a new survey of 1,444 U.S. gun owners conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The survey, believed to be the first nationally representative sample in 15 years to examine gun storage practices in U.S. households, found that 54 percent of gun owners reported not storing all their guns safely. The internet-based survey was fielded by the survey research firm GfK Knowledge Networks between March 15 and April 13, 2016.
The survey defined safe storage as all guns stored in a locked gun safe, cabinet or case, locked into a gun rack or stored with a trigger lock or other lock. This definition is based on research showing these practices reduce the risk of unauthorized access or use.
The findings will be published Feb. 22 in the American Journal of Public Health.
“Household gun ownership can increase the risk of homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings in the home, but practicing safe storage for all guns reduces these risks,” says lead study author Dr. Cassandra Crifasi, an assistant professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. “The survey findings indicate a real public health emergency. More than half of gun owners in the U.S. are not storing all of their guns safely—in a locked gun safe, cabinet or case, locked into a gun rack, or secured with a trigger lock.”