Gun Storage, the Dangers of Replacement Theory, War in Ukraine: RAND Weekly Recap

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July 15, 2022

This week, we discuss personal firearm storage in the United States; why “replacement theory” is so dangerous; what it might take to achieve lasting peace in Ukraine; how America's superintendents feel about their jobs; lessons from the 2017 battle for Raqqa; and the economic returns of foreign language learning.

A open door of a safe showing a hand gun stored inside. Photo by Creatas / Getty Images

Photo by Creatas/Getty Images

How Do Americans Store Their Guns?

Safer firearm storage practices could help reduce gun deaths. But what is known about how Americans currently store their firearms? What influences their storage practices? And what is considered safe gun storage?

A new analysis from RAND's Gun Policy in America initiative provides insights into these questions. Here's an overview of the findings:

  • About half of American gun owners store their firearms locked, and one-third store all of their firearms locked and unloaded.
  • The greatest influence on individual storage practices is how people perceive risk and protection related to their guns. Those with more guns and those with only handguns are less likely to store firearms as recommended, and those in homes with children under 18 are more likely to store them as recommended.
  • There is some evidence that interventions such as counseling, communication campaigns, or safety trainings are effective at changing gun owners' storage practices, but distributing storage devices might be most effective.
  • Overall, experts agree that guns should be stored locked and unloaded and that ammunition should be stored separately.

If more personally owned firearms are stored as experts recommend, it may help prevent unintentional firearm deaths, injuries among children, and suicides. But more evidence is needed to better understand how to improve firearm storage practices..

A man wearing a mask with the words "Stop Asian Hate" written on it attends a candlelight vigil for Michelle Go, New York City, January 18, 2022, photo by Jeenah Moon/Reuters

A man wearing a mask with the words “Stop Asian Hate” written on it attends a candlelight vigil for Michelle Go, New York City, January 18, 2022

Photo by Jeenah Moon/Reuters

'Replacement Theory' Is a Danger to Us All

The Buffalo supermarket shooting that killed ten Black Americans thrust the idea of “replacement theory” into the public consciousness. This theory—which posits that increasing diversity will lead to the extinction of the white race—is “woven into the very fabric of American society,” says RAND's Douglas Yeung. Building coalitions across racial and ethnic communities will be key to rejecting such zero-sum thinking, he says.

Smoke rises from a residential building after shelling from Russian positions in northern Kharkiv as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine, March 31, 2022, photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

Smoke rises from a residential building after shelling from Russian positions in northern Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 31, 2022

Photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

Russia's War in Ukraine: What Could Lead to Peace?

As fighting continues between Russia and Ukraine, it appears that neither side will achieve a decisive military victory. And even if there is an agreement to end the war, existing politics between the two countries don't suggest a lasting peace. According to RAND's Clint Reach, a resolution will come only when one capital accepts the vision of the other. Either Moscow will consolidate a genuinely Russia-friendly regime in Kyiv, or there will be a different regime in Moscow that does not see Ukraine's integration with the West as a threat.

Southeastern Regional Superintendent Luis Lopes enters a special school committee meeting for superintendent candidates on April 5, 2022, photo by Marc Vasconcellos/USA Today via Reuters

Southeastern Regional Superintendent Luis Lopes enters a special school committee meeting on April 5, 2022

Photo by Marc Vasconcellos/USA Today via Reuters

The State of the Superintendent

According to a RAND survey conducted this spring, U.S. superintendents have a near-universal and strong conviction that not only their job, but also the job of schools more generally, has gotten harder over the past decade. However, 85 percent of superintendents said that they were satisfied with their job. The results also show that 13 percent of them plan to leave their position by the end of this school year, a rate on par with pre-pandemic turnover among superintendents.

Residents of Raqqa gather in the morning to drink tea after they had been allowed back to inspect their homes, photo by Aboud Hamam

Residents of Raqqa gather in the morning to drink tea after they had been allowed back to inspect their homes

Photo by Aboud Hamam

Lessons from the Battle for Raqqa

In 2017, after the U.S.-led battle for Raqqa—the Islamic State's de facto capital—the scene was apocalyptic: dust, death, and rubble. As many as 80 percent of the buildings were deemed uninhabitable, and thousands of people had nowhere to go. A RAND report released earlier this year looks at what happened in Raqqa, calling it a “cautionary tale about civilian harm in 21st-century conflicts.” The authors outline what could have been done differently—and how the U.S. military can better protect civilians in the future.

A student listens through headphones to an exercise in a Spanish class in Steveange, UK, photo by Ian Miles/Flashpoint Pictures/Alamy

A student listens through headphones to an exercise in a Spanish class, Steveange, UK

Photo by Ian Miles/Flashpoint Pictures/Alamy

The Economic Returns of Foreign Language Learning

News headlines in the United Kingdom have warned for years of a looming “language crisis.” Without greater investment in teaching foreign languages, the UK could lose not just business opportunities, but cultural awareness in a globalized world. What would be the return on such investments? A recent RAND study found that, if just 10 percent more UK students mastered Arabic, Mandarin, French, or Spanish, it could increase GDP by billions of pounds over the next 30 years.

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