THURSDAY, March 2, 2023 (HealthDay News) — More than half of firearm owners report storing at least one firearm unlocked and hidden, according to a study published online March 2 in JAMA Network Open.

Michael D. Anestis, Ph.D., from the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center in Piscataway, and colleagues conducted a nationally representative survey of adults residing in five U.S. states who owned firearms to examine firearm storage practices. The final weighted sample included 2,152 adults.

The researchers found that 58.3 percent of the firearm owners reported storing at least one firearm unlocked and hidden, and 17.9 percent reported storing at least one firearm unlocked and unhidden. Among participants who use keyed/PIN/dial locking mechanisms and those who use biometric locking mechanisms, gun safes were the most frequently used device (32.4 and 15.6 percent, respectively). The most frequent obstacles to lock usage among those who do not store firearms locked were a belief that locks are unnecessary and a fear that locks would prevent quick access in an emergency (49.3 and 44.8 percent). The circumstance reported most often in which firearm owners would consider locking unsecured firearms was preventing access by children (48.5 percent).

“Secure firearm storage messaging that helps clarify the risk of unsecured firearms beyond situations involving child access may thus serve as a method for increasing secure storage,” the authors write. “However, such messaging must rely on credible sources who deliver their messages via trusted channels.”

Two authors disclosed financial ties to Anduril; one disclosed ties to Oui Therapeutics.

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