FRIDAY, Feb. 25, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Roughly 4.6 million U.S. children live in a household with loaded and unlocked firearms, according to a research letter published online Feb. 22 in JAMA Network Open.

Matthew Miller, M.D., Sc.D., from Northeastern University, and Deborah Azrael, Ph.D., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, both in Boston, conducted a national survey (April 15 to 26, 2021) to assess household firearm ownership and storage. The analysis included 19,049 adults, one-third of whom lived in households with children (younger than 18 years).

The researchers found that 40.4 percent of adults with children lived in a household with firearms, meaning 30 million children lived in households with firearms (7 million more than in 2015). Of the firearm owners with children, most were men, White, married, lived in either a rural or suburban area, and had attended some college. Just over one-third of firearm owners living with children (36.1 percent) had unlocked firearms, and 37.1 percent had loaded firearms. Fifteen percent of gunowners with children reported storing at least one firearm loaded and unlocked (least safe), while 44.1 percent reported storing all firearms unloaded and locked.

“The trend toward safer storage we observed in 2021 was offset by the increase in the proportion of adults with children who lived in households with firearms,” the authors write. “Our estimate of the number of children who lived in a household with loaded and unlocked firearms in 2021 (4.6 million) was not meaningfully different from the estimate reported in the 2015 National Firearms Survey.”

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