Associations between active shooter incidents and gun ownership and storage among families with young children in the United States

Prev Med. 2017 Jul:100:50-55. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.04.002. Epub 2017 Apr 4.


The presence of firearms and their unsafe storage in the home can increase risk of firearm-related death and injury, but public opinion suggests that firearm ownership is a protective factor against gun violence. This study examined the effects of a recent nearby active shooter incident on gun ownership and storage practices among families with young children. A series of regression models, with data from the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort merged with the FBI's Active Shooter Incidents data collected in 2003-2006, were used to examine whether household gun ownership and storage practices differed in the months prior to and following an active shooter incident that occurred anywhere in the United States or within the same state. Approximately one-fifth of young children lived in households with one or more guns; of these children, only two-thirds lived in homes that stored all guns in locked cabinets. Results suggest that the experience of a recent active shooter incident was associated with an increased likelihood of storing all guns locked, with the magnitude dependent on the temporal and geographic proximity of the incident. The severity of the incident, defined as the number of fatalities, predicted an increase in storing guns locked. Findings suggest that public shootings change behaviors related to firearm storage among families with young children.

Keywords: Active shooters; Firearm safety; Firearms; Mass shootings.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Ownership*
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety*
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / epidemiology*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control