This study determined the prevalence and storage patterns of firearms in US homes with children.
We analyzed data from the 1994 National Health Interview Survey and Year 2000 objectives supplement. A multistage sample design was used to represent the civilian noninstitutionalized US population.
Respondents from 35% of the homes with children younger than 18 years (representing more than 22 million children in more than 11 million homes) reported having at least 1 firearm. Among homes with children and firearms, 43% had at least 1 unlocked firearm (i.e., not in a locked place and not locked with a trigger lock or other locking mechanism). Overall, 9% kept firearms unlocked and loaded, and 4% kept them unlocked, unloaded, and stored with ammunition; thus, a total of 13% of the homes with children and firearms–1.4 million homes with 2.6 million children–stored firearms in a manner most accessible to children. In contrast, 39% of these families kept firearms locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition.
Many children live in homes with firearms that are stored in an accessible manner. Efforts to prevent children’s access to firearms are needed.