I’ve said time and time again that I think people need to secure their guns. A lot of people believe that if you buy a gun, you need to buy a gun safe at the same time or, at a minimum, a gun lock. There are a lot of reasons why, of course, but they include theft prevention and keeping guns out of the hands of children.
However, a recent study took a look at how many gun owners keep their guns locked up and found something that looks troubling.
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington found that nearly half of all gun owners are keeping their guns unlocked at home.
The survey focused on Washington residents, all of whom had attended gun safety events where they received free devices to lock up their guns. However, 40 percent of survey respondents reported not locking their guns at home. Unfortunately, having kids around didn’t improve this behavior.
“Even in this population, which had some interest in or awareness of firearm safety, there was a high prevalence of unlocked firearms,” said researcher Aisha King.
These results emphasize the importance of following gun safety, especially when kids are in the house, as leaving guns unlocked and loaded can increase the risk of any number of injuries or accidents.
“A lot of times, the kids do know,” said King. “Also, guardians might think that training adolescent or older children is enough to keep them safe, that training means they don’t have to lock their guns. Unfortunately, a lot of adolescents are at high risk of suicide, and unlocked guns add to that risk — regardless of training.”
The problem, however, appears to be that the study didn’t bother to ask anyone why they didn’t lock up their guns.
For example, I’m a homebody. I don’t go to a whole lot of places, and my daughter is never left at home alone. My son, who is 18, is trustworthy and, if he did want to commit suicide, he’s old enough to buy a gun on his own (assuming he didn’t want to use one of the guns he already owns). My Glock 19 is never locked up, but that’s because it’s on my person if I leave the house.
Would I have said I have unsecured firearms in the house? Absolutely. Does that mean my daughter is in grave peril because of that? Of course not.
You see, a study like this looks very troubling, but it’s incomplete. These are people who are actively trying to be safe, so why would so many have guns unlocked? Probably because they’re unsecured for easy access in the event they’re needed. The last thing you want to do when you hear glass breaking at 3:00 in the morning is fumble with a set of keys or a combination.
Yet that, in and of itself, doesn’t mean they’re being unsafe.
Further, there have been cases when a kid was able to defend their life or the life of someone else because they had access to a firearm.
The truth is that nothing is that cut and dried, yet studies like this try to present it that way. And people wonder why so many pro-gun folks roll their eyes at studies.