More Americans than ever own firearms for protection, but the percentage of them who undergo formal training on how to use their weapons has flatlined, says a new paper published in the the journal Injury Prevention, The Trace reports. The reserch by epidemiologists Ali Rowhani-Rahbar and Vivian Lyons of the University of Washington finds that 61 percent of all gun owners reported receiving formal firearms training. That is a statistically insignificant increase over the 56 to 58 percent of gun owners who reported receiving training in 1994, the last time a comparable survey was conducted.
Of gun owners who said they own a handgun for the sole purpose of protection, 57 percent said they had received formal training. Only 14 percent of those who live with a gun owner, but who do not own guns themselves, have received safety training, which the authors say is a troubling finding considering how often accidental shootings or suicides are committed with guns that belong to a parent, spouse, or roommate. “Despite the presence of training programs all around the country, it looks like they are not reaching a larger fraction of gun owners than they were 20 years ago,” said Rowhani-Rahbar. “I was surprised to see that.” The researchers based their analysis on data from the National Firearms Survey, considered the first nationally representative investigation in more than two decades into how and why Americans keep weapons.