Firearm storage practices in households with children: A survey of community-based firearm safety event participants

Prev Med. 2020 Feb;131:105952. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105952. Epub 2019 Dec 14.


Safe firearm storage is associated with lower risk of unintentional and intentionally self-inflicted firearm injuries among children and adolescents. Ten community-based firearm safety events were conducted across Washington state from 2015 to 2018. We sought to describe characteristics of event participants and assess whether presence and age of children in the household were associated with household firearm locking practices. We assessed demographic characteristics and baseline firearm storage behaviors of participants using a 13-item survey. Multivariable Poisson regression models were used to estimate prevalence ratios (PR) and corresponding confidence intervals (CI) for the association of presence and age of children in households with prevalence of storing a household firearm unlocked. Of 2956 participants, 58.3% were male and 57.9% lived with an individual under 18 years. Among the 89.8% participants living with firearms, 40.1% stored at least one firearm unlocked and 39.1% stored at least one firearm loaded. In adjusted analyses, there was no statistically significant difference in prevalence of storing a household firearm unlocked between those living with no children (reference group) and those living with a child <11 years (PR = 0.91; 95% CI: 0.80,1.04), or a child aged 11-18 years (PR = 0.94; 95% CI: 0.81,1.09). A high proportion of participants stored a firearm unlocked or loaded at home and neither living with young children nor adolescents was associated with safe locking practices. In comparison with firearm safety interventions conducted in clinic settings, a majority of the participants in these community-based interventions were male and owned firearms.

Keywords: Firearm; Injury prevention; Intervention; Prevention & control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ownership
  • Prevalence
  • Safety*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Washington / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control