A Rutgers study found that most gun owners leave at least one gun unlocked because they don’t think gun locks are necessary for quick access in an emergency.
Yet, gun safes remain the most popular method of locking up weapons, according to a study conducted by academics at Rutgers researchers.
Researchers questioned 2,152 English-speaking adult gun owners throughout the country to find out what kind of locking systems they employed and why. The study was published in JAMA Network Open and supported by the Defense Health Agency.
Participants were shown words and photographs of each locking mechanism, unlike earlier research.
The researchers looked at several locking systems in addition to various locking devices, such as cable locks and gun safes.
This led to a more comprehensive account of how American gun owners typically keep their weapons secure.
The authors discovered that 58.3 percent of weapon owners keep at least one firearm unsecured and hidden and 17.9 percent store at least one handgun unlocked and unhidden, despite evidence that properly kept guns may help avoid firearm injury and death.
For people who lock up at least one gun, gun safes are the most common choice, both for devices that can be opened with a key, PIN code, or dial lock (32.4 percent), and for biometric devices that can be opened with a fingerprint or eye scan (15.6 percent).
Michael Anestis, lead author of the study and executive director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center at Rutgers, as well as an associate professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health, stated that the findings highlight two important points.
Firstly, it seems that gun safes are the preferred locking mechanism among firearm owners when compared to cable locks and trigger locks.
“Most locking device distribution programs provide cable locks and trigger locks, so those programs might be mismatched to firearm owner preferences.”
Secondly, the study found that biometric locks are used by very few firearm owners. This could suggest that either the cost is an issue or that firearm owners do not trust the technology to function when necessary.
Most people who don’t lock their guns think that locks aren’t necessary (49.3 percent) and that locks will make it harder to get to the gun quickly in an emergency (44.8 percent).
Nonetheless, gun owners most commonly said they would think about securing unsecured weapons to prevent access by children (48.5 percent), to avoid theft (36.9 percent), and to prevent access by adolescents or young adults (36.7 percent).
These findings suggest that a number of steps will be needed to increase the adoption of safe weapon storage, according to Anestis.
“First, to address motivation we need to address disproportionate fears regarding the likelihood of armed home invasions. Similarly, we need to help the public better understand the risks associated with having firearms in the home – above and beyond the risk of unauthorized access by children.
“Second, we need to create more ready and equitable access to gun safes so that the available locking options align better with the preferences of firearm owners.”
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