CINCINNATI – There is a loaded, unlocked firearm in more than 1 in 10 Ohio homes, according to newly released data on gun safety practices in the Buckeye State.
In an Ohio Health Issues Poll, 42 percent of adults said they had a gun in or around their home, an increase from 36 percent in 2013. While research shows that having a gun in the home can increase the risk of unintentional injury, 11 percent said they had a loaded, unlocked firearm in their home.
Melissa Wervey Arnold, CEO of the Ohio chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, adds that nearly half of homes with children have a firearm.
“A lot of families just don’t realize how early they have to make sure that they’re locking their guns up, how little kids can actually pull a trigger,” Arnold says. “Our biggest thing is providing a barrier method for a child, which is in some kind of storage device, whether it’s a box or in a locker, which many families in Ohio do have.”
The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed there were more than 1,500 firearm deaths in Ohio in 2016, a number that has risen in recent years.
Arnold says the academy in Ohio is working with the Buckeye Firearms Association and other groups to encourage families to speak to their children about safety issues related to firearms. She said it’s a conversation medical professionals can have in a non-confrontational or judgmental way.
“Just like when you’re saying, ‘Make sure that your child’s in a car seat, make sure that you don’t leave a child unattended on a changing table when they’re an infant’,” she says, “the same kind of dynamic in terms of making sure that parents are aware that keeping your guns stored safely away from kids is the best course of action if you’re going to have a gun in the home.”
The Ohio Health Issues poll also found men are more likely than women to have a firearm in or around their home, as are younger adults more likely than older adults.