Everyday gun abandon is a botheration adverse communities beyond the United States—and Washington accompaniment is no exception. Each year, accouchement die in accidental shootings at home; adolescence booty their own lives or others’ with firearms; and hundreds of accoutrements are stolen, arch to added crime. Accoutrements that are not deeply stored in the home by gun owners admission the achievability of these tragedies occurring.
Washington accompaniment is a baton on gun abandon blockage policies. In accession to casual able laws through the accompaniment assembly that seek to abate firearm deaths and injuries in the state, in contempo years, grassroots advocates accept auspiciously acclimated the election to advance for astute gun reform. In 2014, Washington voters overwhelmingly accustomed a election action accretion accomplishments checks for all gun sales.1 In 2016, voters took action a additional time, acknowledging a election admeasurement establishing an acute accident aegis order, which allows ancestors associates and law administration cadre to briefly aish accoutrements from accession a adjudicator deems to be a cogent blackmail to themselves or others.2
These efforts accept been basic in allowance accomplish Washington’s communities added secure. The accompaniment accustomed a “B” brand and ranked 10th arch all-embracing in the Giffords Law Center to Anticipate Gun Violence’s best contempo anniversary assay of state-level gun laws in the United States.3 Yet while Washington is an admirable archetypal of both adopted admiral and bounded advocates alive to abode gun abandon in their communities, gaps abide in the state’s laws. One breadth in charge of burning absorption by policymakers in the accompaniment apropos the risks of apart accoutrements in the home and the charge to ensure that gun owners are autumn accoutrements safely. While abundant of the civic chat about gun abandon focuses on accessible displays of that violence—such as accumulation shootings in accessible locations—the absoluteness is that a abundant allocation of gun abandon in the United States has roots in the home. Back accoutrements in the home are not cautiously stored to advice anticipate crooked access, they can bound become an apparatus of tragedy.
Safe accumulator legislation mandating that accoutrements be bound back not in use, accompanying with alarming admission blockage laws that authority gun owners answerable if their unsecure firearm is accessed by an crooked user such as a child, advice anticipate these tragedies. Lawmakers in Seattle accept already accustomed the charge for this legislation, casual safe accumulator regulations in the burghal beforehand this summer.4 Implementing these laws throughout the accompaniment has the abeyant to admission assurance in communities beyond Washington accompaniment and, as a result, save lives.
As clandestine gun buying has proliferated in the United States, so has the cardinal of accouchement who alive in homes with firearms. Unfortunately, abounding of those accoutrements are not stored in a defended manner. A aggregation of advisers from Harvard University, Columbia University, and Northeastern University begin that about 4.6 actor accouchement ages 17 and adolescent alive in a home with at atomic one apart and loaded gun.5 Such lax accumulator methods admission the befalling for accouchement to find, comedy with, or use these alarming weapons afterwards their parent’s or guardian’s knowledge, generally with adverse results.
Nationally, about 89 percent of baleful accidental shootings involving accouchement action at home.6 From 2002 through 2016, 1,723 accouchement beneath age 18 in the United States died from an accidental firearm injury; 18 of those accouchement died in Washington.7 On July 21, 2013, for example, 4-year old Dwayne Kerrigan fatally attack himself in the arch while arena with a blaster at home in Sedro-Woolley, Washington.8 In August 2018, a 14-year-old boy was dead at home in Burien, Washington, afterwards actuality attack in the arch while arena with a blaster with a 16-year-old friend.9 Using a defended accumulator mechanism, such as a gun lock or gun safe, could anticipate tragedies like these from occurring.
Young bodies with apart accoutrements at home additionally face the accident of suicide by gun. In Washington, bodies use accoutrements to booty their own lives added than any added method.10 According to the Washington Accompaniment Department of Health, suicide is the second-leading account of afterlife amid adolescent bodies ages 10 to 24 in the state, with about alert as abounding adolescent bodies in that age ambit dying from suicide than from homicide.11 According to a 2010 assay conducted by the Washington Accompaniment Department of Health, Accompaniment Department of Social and Health Services, and added accompaniment institutions, 18 percent of 10th-graders appear accepting actively advised afterlife by suicide aural a year above-mentioned to the survey; 7 percent of those acceptance had attempted to booty their own lives at some point in the year afore the survey.12 In addition, 14 percent of sixth-graders surveyed appear accepting actively advised suicide at some point in their lives, with 5 percent accepting attempted to booty their own lives.13
Nationally, 9,369 adolescent bodies ages 18 and adolescent took their own lives with a firearm from 2002 through 2016; 257 of those accouchement were in Washington.14 In added than 75 percent of suicide attempts in the United States by adolescence ages 19 and adolescent involving a firearm, the weapon came from their own home or from the abode of their ancestors or friend.15 Using a firearm to attack suicide is a abnormally baleful method: Research indicates that the use of a gun after-effects in afterlife in 85 percent of suicide attempts, which is exponentially greater than the 3 percent accident amount of added accepted methods to attack suicide in the United States.16 The adjustment initially called for a suicide attack affairs tremendously. Abstracts from a meta-analysis of 90 case studies that were conducted globally acquisition that about 70 percent of individuals who survive a suicide attack do not accomplish addition attempt.17
Unsecured accoutrements additionally actualize risks for gun abandon alfresco the home. A abstraction by the U.S. Department of Education and the Secret Service reviewing academy shootings begin that 65 percent of the accoutrements acclimated in those incidents came from the shooter’s home.18 For example, Moses Lake, Washington, was rocked on February 2, 1996, back 14-year-old Barry Loukaitis opened blaze in his algebra class, killing two acceptance and a abecedary afore actuality tackled and baffled by addition teacher.19 The morning of the shooting, Loukaitis accomplished into the apart gun chiffonier in his abode and took his father’s hunting rifle, a handgun, and armament with him to school.20 In addition instance, on October 24, 2014, Jaylen Fryberg acclimated his father’s blaster to absolutely shoot bristles of his accompany at a academy cafeteria table in Marysville, killing four, afore demography his own action with the gun.21 Locking accoutrements at home would accomplish it added difficult for a adolescent gluttonous to accomplish a abhorrent abomination to admission a baleful weapon—and would anticipate agnate tragedies from accident in the future.
Finally, accoutrements that are not stored deeply are at a college accident for theft. Gun owners are targets for gun theft, abnormally back their accoutrements are not stored securely.22 Bodies who own a ample cardinal of accoutrements are decidedly accessible to theft, accustomed the amount of firearms.23 Assay of FBI abstracts begin that a firearm is baseborn every 2 account in the United States.24 Additionally, this assay adumbrated that an estimated 1.2 actor accoutrements were baseborn from individuals from 2012 through 2015.25 Gun annexation abundantly affects Washington; the FBI appear that from 2012 through 2015, about $14.9 actor account of accoutrements were appear baseborn in the state, which amounts to about 33,164 guns.26 Nationally, Washington ranks 10th for the accomplished levels of appear gun annexation over this four-year period.27
Gun annexation is a accessible assurance threat, as baseborn accoutrements are generally after acclimated in a agitated crime. A abstraction conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Accoutrements and Explosives (ATF) bent that about 9,736 accoutrements accepted to be baseborn from accountant gun dealers were affiliated to a abomination from January 2010 through December 2015.28 Gun annexation is additionally a accepted allotment of actionable gun trafficking operations. In 2000, ATF appear a abode advertence that from July 1996 through December 1998, about 10 percent of gun trafficking investigations complex baseborn accoutrements from clandestine individuals, and 14 percent of gun trafficking investigations complex accoutrements baseborn from gun dealers.29
There are a few astute measures that states such as Washington can achieve to advice abate the risks of apart guns. First, gun owners should be appropriate to defended their accoutrements with gun locks or abundance them in a safe back they are not actuality used. Using these simple assurance mechanisms has been accurate to advice abate accidental cutting deaths. The U.S. General Accounting Office appear a abode in 1991 that begin that from 1988 to 1989, 31 percent of accidental gun deaths would accept been preventable if a loading indicator accessory and assurance lock had been used.30 Furthermore, the Journal of the American Medical Association appear a abstraction in 2005 advertence that deeply autumn accoutrements and bullets could advice abate the accident of self-inflicted gun-related injuries at home.31 Locking up a firearm additionally makes it harder to steal, appropriately allowance assure the gun buyer from actuality a victim of a abomination and abbreviation the accident of the gun actuality trafficked or acclimated in bent action by an crooked user.
Second, adults should be captivated answerable if they abort to abundance accoutrements deeply and a adverse cutting results. Implementing laws that accomplish capricious gun owners answerable for their accomplishments helps avert accidental shootings, injuries, and death. Assay from the RAND Corporation bent that there is admiring affirmation suggesting that these kinds of laws abate accidental injuries and deaths amid children, as able-bodied as abate incidents of adolescence suicide.32 To date, 27 states and the District of Columbia accept allowable some anatomy of legislation captivation gun owners accountable if a adolescent accesses a gun.33
Safe accumulator laws and alarming admission blockage legislation advice accumulate communities safe from gun violence. Several states, including Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, and New York, accept auspiciously anesthetized this affectionate of legislation to abode gun violence.34 States afterwards defended accumulator laws are abdicating their assignment to authorize norms about amenable gun ownership. Afterwards these laws, Washington homes and communities are accessible to accidental shootings and gun theft. Filling the gap in Washington state’s legislation by casual and implementing defended accumulator laws will anticipate tragedies and save lives.
Chelsea Parsons is the carnality admiral of Gun Abandon Blockage at the Center for American Progress. Rukmani Bhatia is the action analyst for Gun Abandon Blockage at the Center.
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