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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Firearm safety research

The following articles examine various firearm safety issues including injury prevention counseling, parent perceptions of children's behavior, ownership and storage trends, and protective factors associated with safe firearm storage.

Albright T, Burge S. Improving Firearm Storage Habits: Impact of Brief Office Counseling By Family Physicians. Journal of American Board of Family Practice. 2003;16:40-46.

This study sought to determine the impact of brief office counseling by family physicians on patients' firearm storage habits. It was found that 64% of the patient group receiving verbal counseling and 58% of the group receiving verbal counseling plus written information made a safe change in gun storage compared with 33% of participants in the no-intervention group, indicating a significant, positive impact of physician counseling.

Baxley F, Miller M. Parental Misperceptions About Children and Firearms. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 2006;160:542-547.

This article explores how accurate parents' predictions were regarding their children's self-reported behavior around household guns. Children younger than 10 years were as likely as older children to report knowing the storage location and to report having handled a household gun. 22% of parents who reported that their children had never handled a household gun were contradicted by their children's reports, revealing discordance between parent and child reports.

Becher EC, Christakis NA. Firearm injury prevention counseling: are we missing the mark? Pediatrics. 1999 Sept;104(3 Pt 1):530-5.

This article explores the ability of pediatricians to accurately estimate the likelihood of gun ownership among their patients' families as well as the pediatricians' beliefs about firearm injury prevention counseling. They found that pediatricians' significantly underestimated the likelihood of gun ownership by specific families. Parents who owned guns indicated they would acknowledge owning a gun if asked by their pediatrician.

Carbone PS, Clemens CJ, Ball TM. Effectiveness of Gun-Safety Counseling and a Gun Lock Giveaway in a Hispanic Community. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2005;159:1049-1054.

In a predominantly Hispanic pediatric clinic, researchers examined firearm safety counseling practices among case and control groups. Researchers found that a brief gun-safety counseling session, including distribution of written information and a free gun lock, resulted in significant improvement in safe firearm storage behaviors.

Coyne-Beasley T, McGee KS, Johnson RM, Bordley WC. The Association of Handgun Ownership and Storage Practices with Safety Consciousness. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2002;156:763-768.

This study examined the association of parent safety consciousness in other household respects to firearm safety practices. Researchers found that general home safety practices did not predict safe firearm storage; respondents who used most of the injury prevention practices were no more likely to store firearms within the home safely than those who reported few injury prevention practices.

DuRant R, Barkin S, Craig J, et al. Firearm Ownership and Storage Patterns among Families with Children who Receive Well-child Care in Pediatric Offices. American Academy of Pediatrics. 2007;119(6):1271-1279.

This study examined firearm storage patterns and their associations in families who attended pediatric practices from both rural and non-rural areas across the United States. Twenty-three percent of families reported firearm ownership, but only 1/3 reported safe firearm storage practices. They also found that not being raised with firearms was associated with safe storage behaviors and that families who had children aged 2 to 5 years and owned long guns were more likely to store their guns safely than families with older children.

Grossman DC, Mueller BA, Riedy C, et al. Gun Storage Practices and Risk of Youth Suicide and Unintentional Firearm Injuries. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2005;293(6):707-714.

The study examined the association of household firearm storage practices and the risk of unintentional and self-inflicted firearm injuries among youth through a case-control study. Researchers found that case guns were less likely to be stored safely. Keeping a gun locked, unloaded, with ammunition stored separately and locked is associated with a protective effect and is a feasible strategy to reduce firearm injuries in homes with youth.

Johnson R, Miller M, Vriniotis M, Azrael D, Hemenway D. Are Household Firearms Stored Less Safely in Homes With Adolescents? Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 2006;160:788-792.

The objective of this study was to examine whether firearms are more frequently stored loaded, unlocked, or both in households with adolescents only (aged 13-17 years) compared with households with younger children only (aged 0-12 years). The investigators found that houses with adolescents only versus those who also had younger children were more likely to store a firearm unlocked (42% versus 29%). Researchers advise that firearm injury prevention programs should directly target parents of adolescents to promote safe firearm storage.

Khubchandani J, Price JH, Dake JA. Firearm Injury Prevention Training in Preventive Medicine Research Programs. Journal of Community Health. 2009;34(4):295-300.

This study examined the proportion of General Preventive Medicine Residency programs involved in training residents on firearm injury prevention issues, and sought to determine the perceived benefits and barriers of such training programs from program directors. They found that 25% of such residency programs included firearm injury prevention training in their curriculum -- their program directors perceived significantly higher number of benefits to offering such training than did directors who did not provide such training, but there was no significant difference for the number of perceived barriers between the cohorts.

Schuster MA, Franke TM, Bastian AM, Sor S, Halfon N. Firearm storage patterns in US homes with children. American Journal of Public Health. 2000 Apr;90(4):588-94.

This study examined the prevalence and firearm storage practices in US homes with children. It found that 13% of the homes surveyed stored firearms in a way that was accessible to children, revealing a substantial need for firearm safety education.

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Firearm facts