Study: Disconnect between veteran gun storage beliefs and suicide risk
By Christen Smith
One in four veterans store all of their firearms unlocked and loaded, seemingly unaware of how the behavior increases their risk for suicide, according to a new study published last month.
A team of physicians led by Dr. Joseph A. Simonetti, a clinician investigator at the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention, published their findings regarding veteran attitudes and behaviors surrounding gun storage in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
The data collected from a survey of more than 1,000 veterans — of which 585 identified as gun owners — concluded one-third of respondents stored at least one firearm unlocked and loaded. Nearly seven in 10 stored at least one gun unlocked and unloaded and just under half admitted storing at least one gun locked, but loaded.
Researchers suggest a correlation exists between these storage practices and the think that guns make homes safer and function best as tools for personal protection. Just 6 percent of veterans, however, think firearms increase the risk of suicide, according to the data.
“Suicide prevention initiatives among veterans should incorporate communication strategies that address common misperceptions about household firearm risk and whether safe storage practices may better align with reasons most Veterans own firearms (i.e., safety) — especially