Introduction: The prevalence with which firearms are stored loaded or unlocked has been measured in previous surveys. Our purpose was to compare household firearm storage practices reported by firearm users and nonusers.
Methods: We analyzed telephone survey data from the 1992 and 1993 Oregon Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System on 2454 randomly selected adults in households with firearms. We compared reported firearm storage practices among persons who ever used firearms with persons who had never used firearms by demographics and type of firearm.
Results: Nonusers of firearms were much less likely than firearm users to report that household firearms were always or sometimes stored loaded [odds ratio (OR) = 0.45, 95% confidence interval (CI):0.36-0.54] or stored loaded and unlocked (OR = 0.46, 95% CI: 0.36-0.57). Except for persons aged 18 to 34 years and persons in handgun-only households, differences in reported firearm storage practices between nonusers and users varied little by demographic characteristics or by type of firearm. Nonusers of household firearms may be unaware that firearms are stored loaded or stored loaded and unlocked in their homes.
Conclusions: Surveys that do not consider firearm use status may underestimate household exposure to loaded firearms or to loaded and unlocked firearms.