Children's and women's ability to fire handguns. The Pediatric Practice Research Group

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995 Dec;149(12):1318-22. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170250024003.


Objectives: To evaluate whether strength differences between children and women might keep children from firing handguns and to determine how many young children can fire available handguns.

Design: One- and two-index finger trigger-pull strength was tested using a standard protocol. Data on trigger-pull settings of 64 commercially available handguns were obtained.

Setting and participants: Convenience sample of well children and their mothers at four Chicago (Ill)-area pediatric practices for health supervision visits, and of siblings of emergency department patients, during an 8-week period.

Intervention: None.

Main outcome measure: One- and two-index finger trigger-pull strength of mothers and children.

Results: Twenty-five percent of 3- to 4-year-olds, 70% of 5- to 6-year-olds, and 90% of 7- to 8-year-olds have a two-finger trigger-pull strength of at least 10 lb, the fifth percentile one-finger trigger-pull strength of adult women. Forty (62.5%) of 64 handguns require trigger-pull strength of less than 5 lb; 19 (30%) of 64 require 5 to 10 lb.

Conclusions: Significant overlap exists in the trigger-pull strength of young children and women, limiting the potential use of increased trigger-pull settings to discourage firearm discharge by children. Young children are strong enough to fire many handguns now in circulation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Firearms* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Hand Strength*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers
  • Motor Skills
  • Sex Characteristics
  • United States