In this study we examined firearm storage patterns and their associations in a diverse sample of families who attended pediatric practices from both rural and nonrural areas across the United States.
Parents who brought their children who were aged 2 to 11 years (N = 3745) to 96 Pediatric Research in Office Settings practices from 45 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico participated in an office-based survey before a well-child examination. The survey measured demographic variables; family history of guns in the home; and firearm types, storage behaviors, and ownership.
Twenty-three percent of families reported firearm ownership. The majority (60%) of respondents reported making firearm storage decisions. Only one third of firearm owners reported safe firearm storage. Gun type owned was associated with storage habits, with long-gun owners storing their gun in places other than locked cabinets but with ammunition separate from guns and handgun users more likely to store guns loaded and to use gun locks. In a multivariate analysis, not being raised with a firearm was associated with safe storage behaviors. Families who had children aged 2 to 5 years and owned long guns were more likely to store their guns safely than families with older children.
Few families reported safe firearm storage. Storage patterns are most influenced by firearm type(s) owned, family socialization with guns, and the age of the child. Primary care providers need to understand better not only whether firearms are in the home but also which types are present and whether parents were raised in homes with guns.