UW study reveals dangerous association between guns, kids, and alcohol abuse

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Expanding on a previous study which found a majority of guns are not safely stored by owners in Washington, new research further notes that alcohol misuse adds to this danger, especially when children are in the home.

UW’s new study, led by Graduate Research Assistant Erin Morgan, sought to determine the “association between unsafe firearm storage and exposure to adult alcohol misuse.” It considered data from 5,530 participants.

It determined that 30 percent of children in Washington state live with a firearm in the home, while 55 percent of those children live in a home with an unsafely stored firearm. Furthermore, it found that guns were 20 percent more likely to be stored unsafely in homes with an adult who misused alcohol.

According to the study:

Children living with an adult misusing alcohol may be at a heightened risk for self-harm or unintentional injury, highlighting the need to investigate the association between household firearm storage and adult alcohol misuse. In addition to the direct association between parental alcohol misuse and a youth suicide attempt or death, children with parents who misuse alcohol are also more likely to perpetrate or be subjected to bullying.

UW touts the study as the first of its kind to look into the association.

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%The reasoning cited behind the study can be found in the fact that in 2016, 9,350 firearm injuries occurred among youth younger than 18 years of age — 18 percent of these injuries were fatal, and 45 percent of those deaths were unintentional or self-inflicted.

UW’s study claims to be among the first in the state to link the association between adults who abuse alcohol and kids living in a home with an improperly stored gun.

The wake of I-1639

Washington state has been at the center of the gun storage discussion ever since Seattle first passed legislation requiring gun owners to properly store their firearms. That has since proliferated to Edmonds, Washington passing a similar law, and then finally a measure in Initiative I-1639 that charges someone with a Class-C felony if their firearm is taken and used to commit a crime.