About 1.7 million U.S. children live in homes with loaded, unlocked firearms, reports the Pediatrics online journal, according to USA Today. James Mercy and Catherine Okoro the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed surveys of 224,000 adults done by health departments in 50 states and the District of Columbia during 2002. One-third of adults have handguns, rifles or shotguns at home. States vary greatly in the percentage of adults who keep weapons, and in how many with children at home store their guns loaded and unlocked. The states with the highest percentage of adults who have children at home and leave guns unlocked and loaded were reported as Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
Eighteen states have laws dealing with proper storage of guns to limit access by children, says Jon Vernick of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University’s school of public health. The laws vary in strictness – 7 states make it a felony under some circumstances to give minors access to weapons – and they vary in the ages of kids covered. Two studies show accidental gun deaths and teen suicides decline in states with these laws, Vernick says. The Pediatrics report says that of 1,400 children and teens shot to death in 2002, about 90% were home when it happened.