NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Vanderbilt Child Health Poll found that both gun owners and non-gun owners are on the same page when it comes to safe gun storage. Still, this survey also came back with some surprises, according to researchers.
In 2020, researchers said 4,400 children were killed or injured by guns in America.
“Each one of my rotations in the pediatric ICU, there was a child with a firearm injury. I’m never going to forget any of the children that had a firearm injury in my training because they are each horrific,” said Dr. Kelsey Gastineau, a pediatric hospitalist with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Gastineau said that pain has pushed her to study firearms.
In fall 2022, Vanderbilt’s Center for Child Health Policy surveyed more than 1,000 parents across Tennessee. For them, gun violence at school ranked as a top five concern.
According to the poll results, 49% of Tennessee parents own a gun. Among gun owners, 87.3% said it should be stored in a lockbox.
“We didn’t see any large differences in what parents were thinking about with secure storage between those who own firearms and those who do not,” Gastineau said. “In fact, firearm owners felt even a little bit stronger about making sure that firearms were securely stored.”
Gastineau said that having the gun stored, locked, unloaded, and separated from ammunition can reduce unintentional deaths among children by as much as 85%, as well as reduce suicides by 78%.
“Everyone who cares for kids can join in and have a role to play to keep kids safe,” she added.
Although the poll showed wide agreement, Gastineau said one area concerned her: 48% of gun owners and 22% of non-gun owners both said it was okay to hide a gun high in a closet out of a child’s reach.
Researchers said that’s not enough.
“The bottom line is that hidden does not mean secured. It should not be kept in a nightstand, at the top of closet, at the top of fridge, underneath the seat in a car. That is not secured,” said Gastineau. “I hope that we never forget how important this issue is, and these data.”
Researchers said parents’ current opinions on firearm safety could very well be different since the deadly Covenant School shooting happened several months after the Vanderbilt Child Health Poll was taken, putting guns center stage in Tennessee and sparking protests at the State Capitol.
The Center for Child Health Policy plans to take another poll in the future.