Safe storage of handguns. What do the police recommend?

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996 Sep;150(9):927-31. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1996.02170340041008.


Objective: To ascertain the specific suggestions that local police departments in the United States give to parents who ask for advice about methods to safely store handguns.

Methods: A cross-sectional, semistructured telephone survey was administered to a sample of 102 police departments in the United States in cities with populations of 10,000 or more, selected within blocks of cities of similar population size. An investigator, posing as a parent of 3-year-old and 10-year-old children, called departments seeking specific advice on how to safely store a handgun acquired for protection.

Results: Usable responses were generated for 93 (91%) of the departments sampled. Only 3 departments (3.2%) refused to give advice over the telephone. The most commonly suggested storage methods were trigger locks (55 departments [59%]), portable lockboxes for handguns (48 [52%]), and the separation of guns from ammunition (30 [32%]). Seven percent of departments suggested removing the gun from the household. Over half of those suggesting trigger locks and lockboxes considered these devices safe (35 [64%] for trigger locks and 27 [56%] for lockboxes) and yet rapidly accessible to an adult (36 [65%] for trigger locks and 36 [75%] for lockboxes). Responding police officers most commonly reported using the following storage methods at home: no storage method (31 [38%]), portable lockboxes (23 [28%]), out-of-reach location (11 [13%]), separation of gun and ammunition (10 [12%]), and trigger locks (5 [6%]).

Conclusions: Trigger locks are frequently recommended but infrequently used by police themselves at home. Portable lockboxes are frequently recommended as well as used by police.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home / prevention & control*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / education*
  • Police*
  • Safety*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Urban Health