Firearm fatalities can be significantly reduced if gun owners simply lock them away, finds survey

Just locking away all household firearms 'could result in meaningful reductions in firearm suicide and unintentional firearm fatalities among youth,' found a new survey


                            Firearm fatalities can be significantly reduced if gun owners simply lock them away, finds survey

While households without guns are the safest for children and young adults, in the case of households that do store firearms, there's definitely a way to make them as safe as possible, a new survey has found.

Just locking away all household firearms "could result in meaningful reductions in firearm suicide and unintentional firearm fatalities among youth," the survey found. An estimated 6% to 32% of youth firearm deaths by suicide and unintentional firearm injury could be prevented if adults in the household just lock their firearms away unloaded, the survey, published on JAMA Network, stated. It also found that the risk diminishes when all ammunition is also locked and separated from the forearms.

The survey used household data on gun ownership from 2015 to create a simulation that predicts the probability of various outcomes, called the Monte Carlo Model.

There are very few gun owners who actually acknowledge the risk that household firearms pose, which are magnified by careless storage practices (Source: Jens Leli/Unsplash)

The findings are in line with what the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests — storing away household guns unloaded and locked, with ammunition also locked in a separate place. However, it was found that only 3 out of 10 adults in households with children report storing all guns in the suggested way. The data also suggested that there are very few gun owners who actually acknowledge the risk that household firearms pose, which are magnified by careless storage practices. 

The AAP found that while the rate of firearm-related deaths has declined over the past two decades, it is still one of the top three causes of death in American youth, far exceeding rates in other high-income countries. An estimated 38 percent of American households own guns and in gun-owning households with children under age 18, many of the guns are stored loaded and/or unlocked, thus making the presence of guns in the home increase the risk of death from suicide or homicide. 

A national survey in 2015 found that approximately 14,000 children and teens had less serious firearm injuries that year while 2,800 died by gunfire. Of these deaths, 782 were said to have been because of firearms that were unlocked. It also found that approximately one in three US households has at least one firearm, regardless of whether children lived in the home and out of these, two in ten households stored their guns loaded and unlocked.