Firearm storage practices of US members of the American College of Surgeons

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Firearm storage practices of US members of the American College of Surgeons

Category: Behavior, Firearm Availability|Journal: Journal of American College of Surgeons (full text)|Author: B Campbell, C Talley, D Kuhls, E Bulger, R Stewart|Year: 2021

Background

As a part of its firearm injury prevention action plan, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) surveyed the entire US ACS membership regarding individual members’ knowledge, experience, attitudes, degree of support for ACS Committee on Trauma (COT) firearm programs, and degree of support for a range of firearm injury prevention policies. This survey included questions regarding members’ prevalence of firearm ownership, type of firearm(s) owned, type of firearm(s) in the home, personal reasons for firearm ownership, and methods of firearm/ammunition storage.

 

Study design

An email invitation to participate in an anonymous, 23-item survey on firearms was sent to all US ACS members (n = 54,761) by a contracted survey research firm. Cross tabulation of questionnaire items by demographic characteristics and chi-square analyses were performed with statistical significance p < 0.05.

 

Results

The overall response rate was 20.4% (11,147/54,761). Forty-two percent of respondents keep firearms in their home (82% long guns, 82% handguns; 32% high-capacity magazine fed, semi-automatic rifles); 75% keep guns for self-defense/protection, 73% for target shooting; 39% store firearms unlocked, and 32% store guns unlocked and loaded. Results vary by practice/training location, practice type, military experience, sex, age, presence of children in the home, level of training, and race/ethnicity.

 

Conclusions

A significant percentage of ACS members keep firearms in their home, and nearly one-third store firearms in an unlocked and loaded fashion. Safe storage is a basic tenet of responsible firearm ownership. These data present opportunities for engaging surgeons in efforts to improve safe firearm storage.

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