Objectives: To examine statewide data on exposure of adults and children to loaded and unlocked household firearms, and to estimate the prevalence of firearm carrying among adults in Oregon.
Design: Analyses of 1992 and 1993 telephone survey data from 6202 adults aged 18 years and older using the Oregon Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
Main outcome measures: Number of adults and children exposed to household firearms always or sometimes stored loaded and unlocked. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for exposure to loaded and unlocked firearms and firearm carrying among adults by demographic and alcohol use patterns.
Results: Ten percent of adults (197 400 persons) lived in households with firearms that were always or sometimes stored loaded and unlocked. An estimated 6.2% of households with children had firearms that were loaded and unlocked, and about 40 000 children lived in these households. Overall, 4.4% of adults carried loaded firearms in the past month. Rural residence, male sex, and less than a college education were associated with living in a household with loaded and unlocked firearms and with firearm carrying. Drinking 5 or more alcoholic beverages on 1 or more occasions in the past month (OR, 1.7; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-2.3) or drinking 60 or more alcoholic beverages in the past month (OR, 1.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-2.7) were independently associated with living in households with loaded and unlocked firearms.
Conclusions: Many adults and children are exposed to unsafely stored firearms in Oregon, and many adults carry loaded firearms. Improved public health surveillance of firearm storage and firearm carrying using standardized questions and definitions is needed at the national, state, and local levels.