UW Study: Most gun-owning households in Washington state don't safely store firearms
SEATTLE - Three out of every five gun owners across the state aren't locking up their guns. That's according to a new study by researchers from the University of Washington's School of Public Health.
The study also found gun owners who don't store their guns safely are at a higher risk for suicide.
"I think one of our big final take always is knowing that there's increased risk for suicide among gun-owning household and really, a reminder that a majority of gun owning households in Washington State aren't practicing safe storage. It really is important," said Erin Morgan, researcher at UW's School of Public Health.
Researchers surveyed about 35,000 people across the state. The said mental health factors could not explain the increase in the suicide rate.
Gun rights activists believe the study is flawed and safety can be interpreted in different ways.
"Everybody will store their firearms differently. What some people believe isn't safe is perfectly adequate for other people. For example, the person living home alone or an adult without a child in the home would be perfectly comfortable and certainly safe storing their firearm loaded," said Dave Workman, senior editor at The 2nd Amendment Foundation.
In Washington State in 2016, guns were the leading method of suicide for men and the second-leading method for women.
Researchers say they hope the study will help in suicide prevention and bring about more gun safety awareness.
The study was funded by the Washington-based group Grandmothers Against Gun Violence.