Objective: To examine whether firearms are more frequently stored loaded, unlocked, or both in households with adolescents only (aged 13-17 years) compared with households with younger children only (aged 0-12 years).
Design: Random-digit-dial survey on firearms (n = 2770). We computed bivariate associations between the presence of adolescents and firearm storage practices. Statistical significance was assessed using prevalence ratios with 95% confidence intervals.
Setting: United States.
Participants: Survey respondents with children (aged <18 years) who reported the presence of a household firearm.
Main outcome measures: Prevalence of firearms in the home stored loaded and/or unlocked.
Results: Of the 392 respondents, 22% had a loaded firearm, 32% had an unlocked firearm, and 8% had a firearm stored loaded and unlocked. Compared with households with younger children, households with adolescents only were somewhat more likely to store a firearm unlocked (42% vs 29%; prevalence ratio, 1.48; 95% confidence interval, 1.04-2.02), loaded (26% vs 20%; prevalence ratio, 1.25; 95% confidence interval, 0.82-1.91), or both (10% vs 8%; prevalence ratio, 1.43; 95% confidence interval, 0.64-3.19).
Conclusions: Parents of adolescents appear to be more likely to keep household firearms stored unsafely, especially with regard to keeping firearms unlocked. This is of concern because most youth firearm injuries happen to adolescents. Firearm injury prevention programs should directly target parents of adolescents to promote safe firearm storage.