Objective: To determine the extent of firearm training among gun owners, how gun owners currently store their weapons, and the relationship between gun training and gun storage.
Design and setting: A national random telephone survey of gun owners conducted from May through June 1994.
Participants: A total of 800 adult gun owners residing in the United States.
Main outcome measures: Number of gun owners who received firearm training and number who store a firearm loaded and unlocked. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine factors associated with firearm training and gun storage practices.
Results: A total of 451 (56%) of gun owners have received firearm training. A total of 170 (21%) of gun owners keep a firearm both loaded and unlocked in the home. Factors associated with an increased likelihood of storing guns loaded and unlocked included owning a gun for protection (odds ratio [OR], 2.40; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.62 to 3.54), owning a handgun (OR, 3.31; 95% CI, 1.85 to 5.95), and having received firearm training (OR, 1.71; 95% CI, 1.10 to 2.67). Length of firearm training and how recently training was received have little effect on storage practices.
Conclusion: It has been suggested that many homicide, suicide, and accidental firearm injuries might be prevented if ready access to lethal weapons was reduced, in part through appropriate storage of guns. Although increased training has been advocated as the prime method to improve gun storage practices, our results cast doubt on whether firearm training, at least as currently provided, will substantially reduce the inappropriate storage of firearms.