Gun Access and Safety Practices Among Older Adults

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Gun Access and Safety Practices Among Older Adults

Category: Firearm Availability, Injury, Suicide|Journal: Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research (full text)|Author: H Flaten, H Lum, M Betz|Year: 2016

Background

Given high rates of gun ownership among older adults, geriatric providers can assess firearm safety practices using a “5 Ls” approach: Locked; Loaded; Little children; feeling Low; and Learned owner. This study describes gun access and the “5 Ls” among US older adults. 

 

Methods

Data on the “5 Ls” from the Second Injury Control and Risk Survey (ICARIS-2), a national telephone survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were analyzed. Weighted variables were used to generate national estimates regarding prevalence of gun ownership and associated gun safety among older adults (≥55 years). 

 

Results

Of 2939 older adults, 39% (95% CI 37%–42%) reported ≥1 gun stored at home. Among those with guns at home, 21% (95% CI 18–24%) stored guns loaded and unlocked; 9.2% (95% CI 6.6–12%) had ≥1 child in household; 5.1% (95% CI 3.5–6.8%) reported past-year suicidal ideation and 3.6% (95% CI 2.1–5.2%) reported history of a suicide attempt; and 55% (95% CI 51–59%) stated that ≥1 adult had attended firearm safety workshop. 

 

Conclusion

Some older adults may be at elevated risk of firearm injury because of storage practices, suicidal thoughts, or limited safety training. Future work should assess effective approaches to reduce the risk of gun-related injuries among older adults.

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