Study: Gun Safety Education Should Be Expanded

According to stats from a new UW survey, only about 60 percent of gun owners in the U.S. have received gun safety training.

The four rules of gun safety.
The four rules of gun safety, the cornerstone of every gun safety class. photo from melodylauer.comweb photo

According to statistics from a new study from the University of Washington School of Public Health, about 40 percent of gun owners in the U.S. have not received any formal gun training, potentially highlighting a gap in the existing gun safety programs.

In this decidedly unbiased story from motherjones.com, Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, an associate professor of epidemiology at UW and the study's lead author, says it is the first of its kind in more than 20 years.

Back in 1994, two surveys found that about 56 to 58 percent of U.S. gun owners had received some kind of gun safety training, which could include instruction on gun storage, safe handling, and preventing accidents.

"Now that number stands at about 61 percent," he said in the story. "It basically shows that, while training programs do exist—those that the NRA is running and that other gun advocacy groups are running—the reality is that they're not reaching a larger fraction of gun owners than they used to many years ago."

The story says the study used data from a "nationally representative online survey of nearly 4,000 people."

It also found that men reported receiving more gun safety training (66 percent) than women gun owners (49 percent).

Predictably, more gun owners of all genders who have guns for hunting and sport shooting reported receiving gun safety education (68 percent) than those who own guns purely for self defense (57 percent for handgun owners and 47 percent for long-gun owners).

But here’s a really interesting number: only 14 percent of non-gun owners living in a household with a gun owner said they’ve received gun safety training.

We all know that the best way to avoid accidents with firearms is to make sure that anyone with access to them knows how they work and how to safely handle them, at the very least. That's part of the reason for legislation introduced in states like Wisconsin and North Carolina and Utah that would allow gun safety classes to become part of the public school curriculum.

The story says the next step for Rowhani-Rahbar is to "compare those who have received training to those who haven't and see whether it actually translates to saving lives," though he doesn't say specifically how he will accomplish that in the story.