Objective: To examine the personal behavior of primary care pediatricians in Alabama with respect to a gun control policy. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports removal of handguns from homes, safe gun storage in homes with guns, and counseling patients about gun safety practices.
Setting: Primary care pediatricians.
Patients or other participants: Population-based sample.
Main outcome measures: The proportion of pediatricians who were gun and handgun owners was examined. In addition, the safety behaviors and counseling practices reported by pediatricians were examined.
Results: The response rate for pediatricians was 67%. Fifty percent of pediatricians reported owning a gun. Thirty-four percent of pediatricians had a handgun in their household. Eleven percent of pediatricians had unsafe gun practices, where unsafe was defined as having a loaded gun in the home or car at least some of the time. The most common reason for owning a handgun or having a loaded gun in the home or car was personal protection. Only a third (33%) of pediatricians routinely counseled their patients about gun safety. Long gun owners were less likely to counsel patients about bike helmet safety and were less likely to use car seats and bike helmets for their own children.
Conclusions: A large proportion of Alabama pediatricians are gun owners, but most store weapons safely. Although long gun owners were less likely to use car seats or bike helmets and less likely to counsel patients regarding bike helmet use, no effect of gun ownership on counseling about gun safety was identified.