Why some parents made firearms more accessible during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic: results from a national study

J Behav Med. 2021 Dec;44(6):867-873. doi: 10.1007/s10865-021-00243-9. Epub 2021 Jul 23.


The objective of this study was to assess parents' firearm storage behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic and characterize reasons why some parents made their firearms more accessible during this time. In June-July 2020, the study team conducted the FACTS National Survey-a cross-sectional, web-based, survey of 2,924 parents and their teens (ages14-18) regarding firearm-related practices. We weighted descriptive analyses to be nationally representative of parents of teens in the United States. We utilized qualitative thematic analysis to identify parents' reasons for making firearms more accessible. Five percent of firearm-owning parents of teens reported making their firearms more accessible during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reasons why parents increased the ease of firearm access included: (1) Increased civil unrest and riots; (2) Threat of home invasion and/or crime victimization; (3) Fear of panic and the unknown; and (4) Easier access and greater protection, threat unspecified. Some parents-largely motivated by fear-chose to store firearms in a more accessible manner during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to protect their family against possible external threats. Understanding the fear that motivates parents' decisions regarding storage practices might aid interventions focused on harm reduction and safer storage.

Keywords: COVID-19; Firearm safety; Firearms; Injury prevention; Parents; Violence prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • COVID-19*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Parents
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States / epidemiology