(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate health committee, today joined Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), the Brady Campaign, and public health advocates at the U.S. Capitol to release a new government report on the effectiveness of firearm storage awareness programs. The report, prepared by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), was the result of a request Sen. Murray made in 2015.
The report, “Personal Firearms: Programs that Promote Safe Storage and Research on their Effectiveness,” found that funding for gun violence prevention research is disproportionately low relative to health issues with comparable mortality rates. According to the report, government-funded research is 0.7 percent of that for sepsis, another important health issue which has a comparable mortality rate, and the publication volume for studies on firearm-related deaths is about four percent of that for sepsis. (Read the full GAO report HERE.)
“There is so much we can and absolutely should be doing to address gun violence—but as this report makes clear, one simple, critical step is to gain a better understanding of how to encourage the safe storage of guns,” said Senator Murray. “I’m hopeful that every Senator will take a close look at the findings in this non-partisan report, and join Democrats, the Brady Campaign, and families nationwide in pushing for stronger investments in gun violence research.”
Sen. Murray’s full remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Kris—and thank you for everything you and the Brady Campaign do to keep up the fight against gun violence. I’m grateful to everyone who’s joined us today—especially Senator Markey, for all his leadership on this issue.
Today in the United States of America, injuries from guns are among the top five causes of death for people under 65. They are the third leading cause of death among children. And regardless of age, people in the United States are more likely to die as a result of gun violence than they are from car accidents, fires, or natural disasters—combined. So, this is a public health epidemic. It’s tragic—and even more so because there is so much we can and absolutely should do to stop it.
One simple, but critical, step toward this goal is to gain a better understanding of how to encourage safe storage of guns in the home. Right now, one out of every four household guns is stored loaded, and half of these aren’t kept locked—putting people in homes across the country, and especially curious children and those at risk of suicide, at great risk. Changing this—and encouraging safe storage—could save countless lives.
But unfortunately—as the report we’re discussing today makes clear—compared to other leading causes of death and injury, there is much more we need to learn about gun violence, including how to better promote safe storage. This is one of the leading causes of death in our country, but it’s one of the ones we have researched the least.
Frankly—like so much about the gun debate in our country—this makes no sense. And it’s got to change. Now, we know that some national and local programs have led to safer gun storage at home. And I’m proud that one of those programs, King County’s LOK-IT-UP campaign, is located in my home state of Washington state.
But we can’t stop there. We should know what else works—and how to scale it. This shouldn’t be controversial. So I’m hopeful that every Senator will take a close look at the findings in this nonpartisan report, and join Democrats in pushing for stronger investments in gun violence research. It’s a small step—but every step that saves a life is worth it. And there’s no reason to wait.
Thank you and I’ll now turn it over to my good friend and colleague, Senator Markey.