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Survey: More than half of Kentucky adults have firearms around their home and many are loaded and/or unlocked

Mar 5, 2020

As death rates related to firearms increase around the country, and gun control is debated by local, state and federal policymakers, it can be helpful to understand current firearm ownership and storage.

The 2019 Kentucky Health Issues Poll asked Kentucky adults about the presence of firearms in or around households, whether the weapons are stored in a locked location, and whether firearms are kept loaded.

The survey is conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati on behalf of Interact for Health and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

“Prevention of gun violence—and the trauma that it brings to our communities—must start with reliable data on the subject,” said O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of Interact for Health. “By asking Kentucky adults about the presence of firearms in their homes, we are helping to build knowledge about firearms in the commonwealth, and in turn, better inform policy decisions.”

More than half of Kentucky adults have firearms in or around home

When asked if firearms are kept in or around their home, more than half (55%) of Kentucky adults answered yes. This is higher than the U.S. average: National data from a 2017 Pew Research Center survey show that 4 in 10 Americans (42%) live in a household with a gun.

Data about variations in gun ownership by region of Kentucky and by gender is available here

Gun storage: Many Kentucky adults report keeping firearms loaded and/or unlocked

To get additional data about firearms in Kentucky homes, KHIP asked respondents about storage of weapons. Of those Kentucky adults who reported keeping a firearm in or around the home, nearly half (48%) said that those guns are loaded. This is an increase since 2011, when 35% said they had a loaded firearm in or around the home.

KHIP also examined whether gun owners kept their weapons locked. Nearly 2 in 3 Kentucky adults (64%) who keep loaded guns in their home reported these guns are also unlocked. This has remained nearly the same since 2011.

Firearm ownership in homes with children

Finally, KHIP examined gun ownership and storage among Kentucky adults who live in a home with a child, finding that:

  • 6 in 10 Kentucky adults (56%) in homes with a child have a firearm in or around the home.
  • Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) reported having a loaded firearm in the house.
  • More than 1 in 10 (15%) report having a firearm in the home that is both loaded and unlocked.

"Kentucky ranks 16th in the nation for firearm related deaths, with more than 700 reported in 2017—the most recent year for which data are available,” said Owens. “Education about responsible gun storage can help in reducing these numbers in the commonwealth.”

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