Objective: To describe gun storage patterns in gun-owning families with children.
Design: Survey of parents attending participating offices.
Setting: Twenty-nine urban, suburban, and rural pediatric practices in Chicago, Ill; New Jersey; Houston, Tex; Utah; Georgia; Iowa; and South Carolina.
Subjects: Parents of children attending offices for well- or sick-child care.
Selection procedure: Consecutive sample of families seen during the 1-week study period. MEASUREMENTS AND ANALYSES: Logistic regression models were constructed to identify sociodemographic factors associated with keeping guns loaded.
Results: Of 5233 surveys, 1682 (32%) indicated ownership of at least one powder firearm. Of the gun-owning families, 61% reported at least one gun unlocked, and 15% reported at least one gun loaded. Rifles were more often stored unlocked (62% rifles vs 52% handguns, P<.001, z=4.60; two-proportion z-test), but handguns were more likely to be kept loaded (3% rifles vs 27% handguns, P<.001). Seven percent of gun-owning families reported at least one gun unlocked and loaded (handguns 12 times more likely than rifles). Only 30% of households reported all guns stored unloaded and locked up. The best-fit logistic regression model for keeping a gun loaded identified four predictor variables: owning a gun for self-protection, work-related gun ownership, owning a handgun, and no men in the home.
Conclusions: Because most gun-owning families store guns loaded, unlocked, or both, anticipatory guidance should address gun storage in all such families. Interventions designed to alter the way work guns are dealt with after work, and to provide safe and effective means of self-protection might affect these storage patterns.