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KY Firearms Report: 'Loaded' with Ownership Safety Cautions

April 23, 2012

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - An in-depth look at firearms ownership in Kentucky shows that in thousands of homes, children are in dangerous, even potentially life-threatening, situations. The most recent Kentucky Health Issues Poll canvassed more than 1600 people and estimates that three-quarters of a million Kentucky homes have firearms.

Susan Zepeda, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, says it isn't necessarily having the guns, but the ways they are stored, that's of concern.

"There are about 244,000 homes with kids and guns. Children are present in 44 percent of homes that keep those firearms loaded, and in 39 percent of the homes that keep the firearms loaded and unlocked."

The poll says that in 2008, 576 Kentuckians died from injury by firearms, and nationally, the CDC ranked Kentucky 16th in the nation in firearm deaths that year.

Zepeda is hopeful the findings will prompt Kentuckians to take a closer look at the weapons in their homes and how they should be handled . . .

"Where it is their firearms are, how they're keeping them, are they truly safe from young fingers? And, training children in an age-appropriate way."

In many states, it is more prevalent for homes in urban areas to have guns, but Zepeda says the landscape is different in Kentucky. More than half the homes polled in eastern and western Kentucky reported having firearms, while in metro areas, like Louisville and Lexington, the figure drops to between 32 and 39 percent.

"When you think about the recreational use of firearms and you think about using firearms to hunt food, it's not surprising that there are more opportunities to do that in more rural areas."

The National Rifle Association advises parents to not only discuss guns and gun safety with their children, but to assume that if a child sees a gun, the instinct is to pick it up, and pull the trigger.

See the full report at http://www.healthy-ky.org/duedates.aspx?id=9485328.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - KY