Teaching firearm safety to children: failure of a program

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2002 Apr;23(2):71-6. doi: 10.1097/00004703-200204000-00002.


The present study investigated the effectiveness of a skills-based firearm safety program on reducing children's play with firearms. In a randomized control study, 34 children aged 4 to 7 years participated in a week-long firearm safety program; the Control Group was composed of 36 children. After the program, pairs of children were observed playing in a structured setting in which they had access to a semiautomatic pistol. A total of 53% of the pairs played with the gun, and there was no difference in gun-play behavior between those children who did and did not receive the intervention. Interview data revealed significant discrepancies in parent and child reports of parental gun ownership and inaccurate parental predictions of their children's interest in guns. The results of the current study cast doubt on the potential effectiveness of skills-based gun safety programs for children.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Safety*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control
  • Wounds, Gunshot / psychology*