Only 3 In 5 Gun Owners Have Received Firearms Training

A new study finds gaps in America’s gun safety.

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Forty percent of America’s gun owners have not received any formal firearms training, according to a new study from the University of Washington (UW) School of Public Health.

The study, published in the journal Injury Prevention, is the first of its kind in more than 20 years. In those two decades, “that number hasn’t meaningfully changed at all,” says Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, an associate professor of epidemiology at UW and the study’s lead author. In 1994, two surveys found that about 56 to 58 percent of US gun owners had received formal firearms training. “Now that number stands at about 61 percent,” says Rowhani-Rahbar. “It basically shows that, while training programs do exist—those that the NRA is running and that other gun advocacy groups are running—the reality is that they’re not reaching a larger fraction of gun owners than they used to many years ago.”

The study uses data from a nationally representative online survey of nearly 4,000 people. It found that among gun owners, men reported receiving more training (66 percent) than women (49 percent). People who purchased a gun for protection were far less likely to have received training (57 percent for handgun owners and 47 percent for long gun owners) than those who owned guns for hunting and sport shooting (approximately 68 percent). Training includes instruction on gun storage, safe handling, and preventing accidents.

Only 14 percent of non-gun owners living in gun-owning households said they had received training. “Why care about that?” Rowhani-Rahbar asks. “We have plenty of evidence that shows that living in a gun-owning household is associated with a higher risk of suicide and unintentional injuries. It’s important they know something about firearms.” Only 15 percent of gun owners had been exposed to any material related to suicide prevention. 

The survey was not designed to evaluate how effective current firearms training is. “That is the next step—to compare those who have received training to those who haven’t and see whether it actually translates to saving lives,” says Rowhani-Rahbar. 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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