"Love our kids, lock your guns": a community-based firearm safety counseling and gun lock distribution program

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001 Jun;155(6):659-64. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.155.6.659.


Background: Safer storage practices may reduce injury rates by limiting youth access to firearms.

Objective: To determine if a firearm safety counseling and gun lock distribution program improved storage practices.

Design: Community-based before-after trial.

Setting: Urban county in central North Carolina.

Participants: One hundred twelve adult gun owners recruited through a mass media advertising campaign.

Intervention: In the parking lot of a shopping mall, participants completed a survey, and were then provided with tailored counseling, gun safety information, a gun lock, and instructions to use it.

Main outcome measures: Firearm storage practices, assessed by survey and personal interview (baseline) and telephone interview (6-month follow-up).

Results: Most participants were white (62%), men (63%), had children (58%), and owned a gun for protection (74%). At follow-up, of the 82 participants, 63 (77%) (up from 39 [48%]) reported storing their gun(s) in a locked compartment (P =.004), 59 (72%) (up from 0) reported using gun locks (P =.001), 61 (74%) (up from 57 [69%]) reported storing their ammunition locked in a separate location, 59 (72%) (up from 52 [63%]) reported storing their gun(s) unloaded, and 6 (7%) (down from 15 [18%]) reported storing firearms unlocked and loaded. Participants with children were more likely at baseline to store weapons unlocked and loaded (38 [59%] vs 19 [41%]; P =.02) but were more likely after counseling to lock their weapons (29 [58%] vs 14 [44%]) and remove guns from the home (5 [10%] vs 0 [0%]).

Conclusions: This program prompted reporting of safer firearm storage practices, particularly among parents. Longer follow-up, verification of self-reports and correct use, testing of gun locks, and monitoring firearm injury rates after distribution programs are needed to establish the public health potential of this approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Counseling*
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Health Education / organization & administration*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Planning
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Media
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina
  • Program Evaluation
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Health
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control*