New York, February 26: In United States, more than half of gun owners do not follow safety norms and do not keep al their guns safely in the store, a study conducted by researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US revealed. Also Read - US shooting incident: 2 dead, including gunman, in Roanoke workplace, says police
According to the report, the researchers found that 54 per cent of the 1,444 gun owners do not store their guns safely.
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 unauthorised access or use.
“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,” said Cassandra Crifasi, an assistant professor at 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 US 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,” said Crifasi, lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
The survey also found that children under the age of 18 were present in about one-third, or 34 per cent, of the homes.
Gun owners were 44 per cent more likely to report safely storing all their firearms if they have a child under the age of 18 in the home.
Slightly more than half, or 55 per cent, of gun owners with children under 18 reported storing all of their guns safely.
Respondents were also asked about factors that influenced their gun storage practices.
Concerns about home defense was selected by 43 per cent, a gun safety training course by 35 per cent, and family discussions by 30 per cent.
In 2016, the most recent year of complete data, there were 1,637 firearm deaths among children under the age of 18; 39 per cent of these deaths were the result of suicide, researchers said.
States with child access prevention laws that require gun owners to ensure children do not gain unauthorised access to their firearms report fewer firearm suicides among adolescents.
Studies have also shown a decreased risk for self-inflicted injury among adolescents when guns are stored safely.
The research found that gun owners who reported a gun safety training course influenced their gun storage practices were twice as likely to practice safe storage for all their guns.
Gun owners who cited discussions with family members as influencing their decisions were 39 per cent more likely to practice safe storage.
“Requiring gun purchasers to take safety training classes, as a handful of states already do, might lead to more gun owners storing their guns safely,” said Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.
The survey also found that gun owners who reported that their storage decisions were influenced by concerns about home defence were 30 per cent less likely to practice safe storage for all their firearms.
“Many bring guns into their homes for self-defence, but unsecured guns can lead to unintentional shootings, suicides, and tragic cases of troubled teens using guns to commit acts of violence,” Crifasi added.