University of Washington School of Public Health

UW SPH News: Gun storage study makes impact in policy sphere

Gun storage study makes impact in policy sphere


An SPH study found that 63 percent of firearm-owning households in Washington state do not store their firearms locked and unloaded. The reseach received widespread local media coverage and was highlighted by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in a legislative proposal to the Seattle City Council to require safe storage of guns.

The study, led by Erin Morgan, a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology, and funded by Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, was published in The American Journal of Public Health. Morgan was interviewed by KOMO-TV and other local media. An editorial in The Seattle Times, Gun owners must lock up and unload at home, implored gun owners to do a better job at storing their weapons. "The recent study by researchers in the University of Washington School of Public Health draws a tight connection between easy access to guns and suicide," the paper wrote.

On May 23, Mayor Durkan proposed legislation to the City Council, citing Morgan's research. "The roots of gun violence are complex, but we know that unsecured, unsafely stored guns help fuel this crisis of violence because they are more likely to cause tragic accidents, fall into the wrong hands, or be used in suicides," Durkan said. "Requiring that gun owners safely store their guns can help make our communities safer places to live."

Added Councilwoman M. Lorena González, "That same report tells us once again that minimizing a person’s access to a firearm via safe-storage practices in firearm-owning households makes a difference in suicide-risk behaviors. Simply put: If more gun owners lock up their firearms, it will reduce accidental firearm injuries and deaths, help prevent youth suicide, and reduce access to guns among youth who have no legal right to purchase firearms. I look forward to championing this common-sense, public health approach through my Public Safety committee in the coming weeks.”

The mayor's statement also cited gun violence research at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

Here's a sampling of media coverage:

UW study: Most homes in Washington with guns do not store the firearms safely -- The Seattle Times

Only a third of Washington gun owners safely store their firearms -- The Stranger

Seattle gun owners could face fines, liability for unsafe storage of firearms -- KUOW

Durkan looks to increase penalties for people who don't report stolen guns - Q13 Fox News