A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

KHIP: More than half of KY adults have firearms in their home; many are loaded and/or unlocked


As death rates related to firearms increase around the country, and gun control is debated by local, state and federal policymakers, it can be helpful to understand current firearm ownership and storage.

The 2019 Kentucky Health Issues Poll asked Kentucky adults about the presence of firearms in or around households, whether the weapons are stored in a locked location, and whether firearms are kept loaded.

The survey is conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati on behalf of Interact for Health and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

(Click for full report)

“Prevention of gun violence—and the trauma that it brings to our communities—must start with reliable data on the subject,” said O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of Interact for Health. “By asking Kentucky adults about the presence of firearms in their homes, we are helping to build knowledge about firearms in the commonwealth, and in turn, better inform policy decisions.”

More than half of Kentucky adults have firearms in or around home

When asked if firearms are kept in or around their home, more than half (55%) of Kentucky adults answered yes. This is higher than the U.S. average: National data from a 2017 Pew Research Center survey show that 4 in 10 Americans (42%) live in a household with a gun.

Data about variations in gun ownership by region of Kentucky and by gender is available at www.interactforhealth.org.

Many Kentucky adults report keeping firearms loaded and/or unlocked

To get additional data about firearms in Kentucky homes, KHIP asked respondents about storage of weapons. Of those Kentucky adults who reported keeping a firearm in or around the home, nearly half (48%) said that those guns are loaded. This is an increase since 2011, when 35% said they had a loaded firearm in or around the home.

KHIP also examined whether gun owners kept their weapons locked. Nearly 2 in 3 Kentucky adults (64%) who keep loaded guns in their home reported these guns are also unlocked. This has remained nearly the same since 2011.

Firearm ownership in homes with children

Finally, KHIP examined gun ownership and storage among Kentucky adults who live in a home with a child, finding that:

• 6 in 10 Kentucky adults (56%) in homes with a child have a firearm in or around the home.
• Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) reported having a loaded firearm in the house.
• More than 1 in 10 (15%) report having a firearm in the home that is both loaded and unlocked.

“Kentucky ranks 16th in the nation for firearm related deaths, with more than 700 reported in 2017—the most recent year for which data are available,” said Owens. “Education about responsible gun storage can help in reducing these numbers in the commonwealth.”

For additional information about the Kentucky Health Issues Poll, please visit www.interactforhealth.org.

From Interact for Health


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3 Comments

  1. Roger Auge Ii says:

    Ain’t fear and ignorance grand. We must have guns to protect ourselves from “them.” This is what the chump administration has done, what Bevin fomented in Kentucky, that we must carry guns. I for one, will no longer visit shopping centers, hospitals or movies theatres over concern that some shallow thinker will be packing heat. in fact, I walked in a restaurant recently, and in the waiting line was a guy with a handgun sticking from his back pocket. Quietly, I picked up order, mentioned to the clerk about presence of a gun, and left. Overwhelming presence of guns is uncivilized.

    • Gretchen says:

      First and foremost guns are allowed via the 2nd amendment allow citizens to overcome tyrannic government as needed. Makes total sense with a perfect example of Chinese government killing their own citizens for talking about the corona virus, to try to save face.
      Second, when essentially martial law is put in place in the US due to the corona virus and thugs start looting and stealing from whomever have resources, your sure as heck every citizen should have a gun.
      Good luck calling the cops when a thug is breaking down your door because they hear you have supplies or smell you cooking food after all of the supermarkets shut down. The cops will come to your rescue about a month after you call them, after you’re robbed and beaten.
      I have no problem with people carrying given the fact 80% of people are good and only 20% are bad. I’d rather have the team with numbers pack heat, versus the team with far fewer numbers being the only ones that pack heat because they break the law and criminals will have guns no matter what, even if they’re completely outlawed.

  2. James Bass says:

    Interesting map.

    Where the crime rate is suppose to be higher, (Lexington, Louisville, NKY), the residents own fewer guns and where the crime rate is suppose to be less, (rural Kentucky), the residents own more guns.

    You would think it would be the reverse. Either the more guns keep crime down, or the residents feel less safe in rural Kentucky, or the residents feel safer in supposedly high crime areas AKA cities, and do not feel the need to arm themselves. Personally I think it is the latter. They feel safer.

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