Safer storage of firearms at home and risk of suicide: a study of protective factors in a nationally representative sample

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2004 Oct;58(10):841-8. doi: 10.1136/jech.2003.017343.


Objective: To estimate the protective effect of storing firearms locked or unloaded, or both, on the risk of suicide by firearms among people with relatively low intention to die.

Design and setting: Cross sectional survey. The 1993 National Mortality Followback Survey of 22 957 deaths in the United States, representing 2.2 million people, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Participants: Decedent's next of kin answered questions regarding various aspects of decedent's life to supplement information from death certificates.

Main results: Compared with decedents who stored their firearm unlocked or loaded, those who stored their firearms locked or unloaded, or both, were less likely to commit suicide by firearms (locked: OR = 0.39, 95% CI = 0.24 to 0.66; unloaded OR = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.18 to 0.49).

Conclusions: This study further supports the utility of devices and practices intended to reduce the likelihood of unauthorised or impulsive use of firearms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control*