Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of gun-safety counseling, a gun-safety brochure, and a free gun lock in subsequent gun removal and safe storage.
Methods: In a predominantly Hispanic pediatric clinic, gun-owning families were identified and assigned to either an intervention group (gun-safety counseling, gun-safety brochure, and a free gun lock) or a control group (usual anticipatory guidance). Families were resurveyed 1 month later for changes in the proportion of gun owners, changes in frequency of unloaded and locked gun storage, and changes to the use of locked storage.
Results: Two hundred six (7.8%) of the 2649 parents initially surveyed kept guns in their households. At follow-up, 16% of the control group removed all guns from their homes as compared with 22% of the intervention group (P = .41). Among the families who received the intervention, 61.6% either removed all guns from their homes or improved their gun storage safety practice in some way. Only 26.9% of the families in the control group showed similar types of improvement (P<.001). In those households still with guns at follow-up, 50.9% of the intervention group had some type of improvement in safe gun storage compared with 12.3% of the control group (P<.001). More specifically, 25.0% in the intervention group improved the frequency of locked storage of guns compared with 4.8% of those in the control group (P = .003). Twenty-six percent of the intervention group improved the use of locked storage compared with 3.1% in the control group (P<.001).
Conclusions: A brief gun-safety counseling session supported with written information along with a gun lock giveaway resulted in significant improvements in safe gun storage behaviors. It did not significantly influence the removal of guns from the home. This study gives support to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (Elk Grove Village, Ill) and other professional organizations to discuss gun safety with families and encourages research in this area. It also suggests that providing tools such as gun locks to enable the desired behavior may improve safe storage.