Both public health and gun rights advocates absolutely agree that gun owners should store their firearms in a way that prevents unauthorised persons from gaining access to them.
Correct storage can help avoid unintentional firearm deaths and injuries among minors. Moreover, a strong theoretical case can also be made for preventing suicide by restricting access to lethal weapons.
Numerous studies have produced results in line with these theories, and public health organizations, such as the World Health Organization, generally agree on this.
Storing firearms under lock and key and unloaded is necessary to limit access to these lethal weapons. For these reasons, public health policy campaigns have been created and implemented to promote the safe storage of firearms owned by individuals.
This study analyses what is meant by safe storage of firearms and provides estimates of the storage practices of U.S. gun owners from representative surveys at the national and state level. This is complemented by research on selected populations with data from 2010, which includes populations of interest because of current events and at risk of harm, such as persons who purchased a firearm during the COVID-19 pandemic, households with minors, persons with mental health conditions or at risk of suicide, and military or veteran populations.
The report describes how Americans typically store their firearms and the rationale for storage practices. It also reviews research on the effectiveness of interventions that seek to change firearm storage practices. These interventions are qualified as clinical, community-based, and public policy interventions.
The study concludes that multiple groups of interested parties recommend that firearms be kept locked up and unloaded, and that ammunition be stored separately. Most empirical evidence to date indicates that approximately half of gun owners keep their firearms locked up, and one-third keep them locked up and unloaded. The greatest influence on storage practices among those who do not store their firearms as recommended are perceptions of risk and protection. Those with more guns and those with only handguns are less likely to store guns as recommended, while households with minors are more likely to store guns as recommended.