(FRANKFORT, Ky - March 5, 2020) Nearly two-thirds of Kentucky adults who keep loaded guns in or around their homes are not locking them up - an important step in protecting against accidental shootings and suicides - according to the Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP). Even 15 percent of Kentucky homes with children have loaded but unlocked guns, KHIP found.
KHIP also found that more Kentuckians with guns at home are storing them loaded, rather than keeping the guns and ammunition in separate locations.
KHIP is an annual telephone poll of Kentucky adults about health and health policy issues sponsored jointly by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health. The poll interviewed a random sample of 1,559 Kentucky adults in the fall of 2019.
Neither the proportion of homes with unlocked, loaded guns nor the percentage of such homes occupied by children has improved since 2011.
"We're not making any progress in the most basic step that gun owners can take to protect against tragic and often deadly accidents," said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. "Locking up your guns and keeping the ammunition in a separate place is recommended by multiple child health and safety organizations to keep them out of the hands of kids who are either just curious or seriously considering harming themselves or others."
KHIP found that 64 percent of the Kentucky adults who reported that they kept loaded guns in their homes also said those guns were unlocked. That's nearly the same as the KHIP results in both 2011 and 2016, when the same questions were asked.
Kentucky law neither requires guns to be locked nor imposes criminal liability for negligent firearm storage, even if a child gains access to the firearm and causes an injury or death, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
More than half of Kentucky adults have firearms in or around their homes, and 48 percent of those keep the guns loaded, up from 35 percent in 2011, KHIP found. Two in 10 Kentucky adults said they store their guns loaded and unlocked, and just one in 10 said they keep their loaded guns locked up.
Adults in Eastern and Western Kentucky are more likely to keep guns around the home than adults living elsewhere in the state; Louisville (40 percent) has the lowest percentage of households with guns. Men (65 percent) are more likely to report having a firearm in their homes than women (47 percent).
A copy of the KHIP report, 2 in 10 Kentucky adults have loaded, unlocked firearms in or around home, is available here.
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About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $29 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.
Bonnie J. Hackbarth
Bonnie J. Hackbarth