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Monday, September 26th, 2022

GAO study identifies safe firearm storage programs, evaluates research on their effectiveness

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A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study identified 16 public or nonprofit programs that encourage safe storage of firearms on the national and local levels and also indicated that safe gun storage has not been extensively studied.

The programs, GAO said, predominantly involved education efforts through media campaigns and community partnerships.

Researchers and program officials cited a federal appropriations rule that prohibits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using funds to advocate or promote gun control as one explanation for the lack of research on the issues.

GAO did identify 12 studies that assessed locking device distribution, physician counseling programs or discussion from researchers. The studies indicated that the distribution of free locks positively impacted safe gun storage, although the studies were mostly based on self-reporting. The studies found that counseling in pediatric primary care visits did not improve safety but emergency care consultation following an adolescent psychiatric crisis did.

According to the CDC, U.S. emergency department saw more than 6,900 nonfatal firearm injuries and nearly 1,500 firearm-related deaths in 2015 among children under age 18. Suicide accounted for approximately 61 percent of all firearm-related deaths in 2015.

Estimates indicate that half of household firearms are not kept locked and more than one quarter are stored loaded.