If you're a parent with a gun, are you storing your weapon correctly?
A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that many aren’t doing that. Researchers conducted an online survey of 3,949 people in 2015, asking them about their parental status, whether they owned guns and how they stored those weapons.
The survey also asked parents whether any of their children had depression or another mental health condition that could pose a risk for self-harm.
It found that around 42 percent of parents with a child under the age of 18 at home also reported owning at least one gun. Parents who had children with a self-harm risk were slightly more likely to own a gun (43.5 percent) than those with children who didn’t have that risk (42.3 percent).
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Two-thirds of parents with children at home did not safely store their guns, which researchers defined as leaving all weapons locked and unloaded when they are not in use. The study found that parents with children who have a higher risk of hurting themselves were slightly more likely to store all their guns safely (34.9 percent) than parents with children who didn’t have that risk (31.8 percent).
Another study, this one in the American Journal of Public Health, found that just 44 percent of gun-owning Americans safely store all their guns. Researchers polled 1,444 gun owners.
Like the other study, this one found that a majority of gun owners in the U.S. leave an unused weapon either unlocked or loaded. Those who have a child at home, only own a handgun or took a gun safety course were more likely to keep their guns in a safe location, the study found.
According to the study, those who owned guns said the National Rifle Association, law enforcement, hunting groups and active-duty military members were the best at teaching others how to properly store their guns. The study concluded that public safety campaigns could work with those groups to increase awareness of gun safety.
These findings come after a shooter armed with an AR-15 assault rifle killed 17 students and teachers at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reignited the nationwide debate on gun control and mental health issues, with students from the school leading the conversation online and on national television. Many have pushed for stricter gun control laws.
A new poll from Quinnipiac University found that 67 percent of Americans support a nationwide ban on the sales of assault weapons, while 97 percent support universal background checks on all gun purchases.
But according to The Washington Post’s poll, only 50 percent of Americans support an assault rifle ban — and a majority of Americans are more likely to blame poor mental health screening than guns for the mass shooting.