GAGVF Funded Research

In 2018, working with our affiliate organization GAGV, the Foundation helped to fund a series of three research projects focused on firearm ownership and storage practices in Washington State.  This research was conducted by the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, the King County Public Health Department, and the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center.

The first study, “Firearm Ownership, Storage Practices, and Suicide Risk Factors in Washington State, 2013–2016” was published in the American Journal of Public Health in June/July of 2018.  This study investigated the relationship between firearm ownership, firearm storage practices and suicide risk. Results of this study confirm that most Washington state gun owners do not store their guns safely, and access to firearms in the home may be a significant risk factor for suicide. We provide an easy-to-read summary of this study and its important findings and implications here.

The second study, “Firearm Storage and Adult Alcohol Misuse Among Washington State Households with Children” was published in JAMA Pediatrics in November, 2018.  This study estimates that 470,000 children in Washington state live in a home with firearms. Among these children, over half live in a household in which a firearm is not stored safely. This study found that children living with an adult gun owner who misuses alcohol are at an increased risk of self-harm and interpersonal violence, particularly when guns are loaded and not locked.  Click here to read our summary of this study.

The third study, “Household Firearm Ownership and Storage, Suicide Risk Factors, and Memory Loss Among Older Adults: Results from a Statewide Survey” appears this month (April 2019) in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In this study, Washington state residents aged 65 or older who showed signs of dementia or depression were no less likely than others their age to have access to firearms.  The results suggest that firearm ownership and unsafe storage pose a significant suicide risk for the elderly.  The researchers conclude that efforts to prevent suicide in older adults by limiting access to firearms have not been successful.  They recommend that doctors discuss gun ownership and storage with their patients and their families particularly if the patient shows signs of dementia or depression.   

Taken together, the initial studies that GAGV Foundation funded in 2018 have had--and will continue to have--a direct impact on safe gun storage policies and practices. Results of these studies were used to support actions taken in Seattle, King County and in Washington state to pass safe firearm storage laws. In addition, they have been used to recommend professional practice standards that encourage physicians and mental health providers to discuss firearm ownership and safe storage with their patients.

In 2019, the GAGV Foundation will have an even greater impact on gun violence prevention in our local communities. Because gun violence does not affect all communities similarly, we call for research that will help us understand the conditions that put some communities at greater risk for gun violence. We call for research that will inform prevention and intervention programs in those communities most impacted by gun violence. Donations made to Grandmothers Against Gun Violence Foundation in 2019 will be used to fund priority research projects and to educate community groups about the research findings.