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America’s Complex Relationship With Guns

As a nation, the U.S. has a deep and enduring connection to guns. Integrated into the fabric of American society since the country’s earliest days, guns remain a point of pride for many Americans. Whether for hunting, sport shooting or personal protection, most gun owners count the right to bear arms as central to their freedom. At the same time, the results of gun-related violence have shaken the nation, and debates over gun policy remain sharply polarized. Guns for sale online

A new Pew Research Center survey attempts to better understand the complex relationship Americans have with guns and how that relationship intersects with their policy views.

The survey finds that Americans have broad exposure to guns, whether they personally own one or not. At least two-thirds have lived in a household with a gun at some point in their lives. And roughly seven-in-ten – including 55% of those who have never personally owned a gun – say they have fired a gun at some point. Today, three-in-ten U.S. adults say they own a gun, and an additional 36% say that while they don’t own one now, they might be open to owning a gun in the future. A third of adults say they don’t currently own a gun and can’t see themselves ever doing so. Buy gun online

To be sure, experiences with guns aren’t always positive: 44% of U.S. adults say they personally know someone who has been shot, either accidentally or intentionally, and about a quarter (23%) say they or someone in their family have been threatened or intimidated by someone using a gun. Half see gun violence as a very big problem in the U.S. today, although gun owners and non-owners offer divergent views on this. Buy guns online

Gun owners and non-owners are also deeply divided on several gun policy proposals, but there is agreement on some restrictions, such as preventing those with mental illnesses and those on federal watch lists from buying guns. Among gun owners, there is a diversity of views on gun policy, driven in large part by party affiliation.

What Is the Safest Way to Store a Gun?

If you have a gun at home, be sure to:

  • Keep the gun unloaded and locked up in a cabinet, safe, gun vault, or storage case.
  • Lock the bullets in a place separate from the gun.
  • Consider using a gun lock (a lock that makes the gun unable to fire).
  • Hide the keys (or passcode) to the locked storage.
Young children are curious. Even if you have talked to them many times about gun safety, they can’t truly understand how dangerous guns are. If they come across a loaded gun, they can accidentally hurt or kill themselves or someone else.
Teens can be emotional and may act without thinking. If they have depression or are feeling down, they may see a gun as an easy way out. 

People of any age who are depressed are at increased risk of suicide. If someone in the family has depression, or has had thoughts of suicide, all guns should be removed from the home. If the guns cannot be removed, it is even more important to store the gun unloaded and locked up with the bullets stored separately and keys hidden.

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What About Guns in the Homes of Family and Friends?

If your child is going to someone’s house, it’s important to know if there are guns in the home. It may feel awkward to ask, but most people will understand that you’re trying to protect your child.

You might try:

  • “My child is pretty curious. Is there a gun or anything else dangerous he might get into?”
  • “Is there a gun in your home?”
  • “Our doctor recommended that I check to make sure there are no guns where my child plays. Do you have any guns at home?”
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Mike Lloyd
Kirstin W. Everton
Kirstin W. Everton