The association of handgun ownership and storage practices with safety consciousness

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002 Aug;156(8):763-8. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.156.8.763.


Background: As with other injury prevention practices, education about safe firearm storage is recommended to prevent injuries to children.

Objective: To assess whether parents who are safety conscious in other respects also practice firearm safety.

Methods: Data come from responses to a baseline survey administered as part of an intervention study. Participants were consenting adults who brought a child into an emergency department. These analyses were restricted to those parents who had young children (<7 years) and who kept a firearm in their house. A safety consciousness score was developed; participants earned a point for each of 7 home and car safety behaviors they reported practicing. The relationship between safety consciousness with handgun ownership and firearm storage practices was assessed with Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test.

Results: Of the 221 participants, most reported that they keep poisonous substances out of children's reach (92%), always keep children restrained when in cars (90%), have the telephone number for a poison control center (82%), change smoke alarm batteries annually (73%), keep electrical outlets capped (72%), and keep their tap water temperature at 120 degrees F (49 degrees C) or less (65%). Only 22% reported checking smoke alarm batteries monthly. The median safety score was 4 (mean [SD], 3.99 [1.4]). Fifty-six percent said there was a handgun in their home, 27% reported an unlocked gun, 20% reported a loaded gun, and 7% reported a loaded and unlocked gun. Results were not consistent with safety consciousness being associated with safe firearm storage practices or the absence of a handgun.

Conclusion: Compliance with safety practices may not be associated with safe firearm storage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Household Work / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Safety*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • United States
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control*