“Love Our Kids, Lock Your Guns”: A Community-Based Firearm Safety Counseling and Gun Lock Distribution Program

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“Love Our Kids, Lock Your Guns”: A Community-Based Firearm Safety Counseling and Gun Lock Distribution Program

Category: Behavior, Firearm Availability, Firearm Policies|Journal: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (full text)|Author: R Johnson, T Coyne-Beasley, V Schoenbach|Year: 2001

Background

Safer storage practices may reduce injury rates by limiting youth access to firearms.

Objective

To determine if a firearm safety counseling and gun lock distribution program improved storage practices.

Design

Community-based before-after trial.

Setting

Urban county in central North Carolina.

Participants

One hundred twelve adult gun owners recruited through a mass media advertising campaign.

Intervention

In the parking lot of a shopping mall, participants completed a survey, and were then provided with tailored counseling, gun safety information, a gun lock, and instructions to use it.

Main Outcome Measures

Firearm storage practices, assessed by survey and personal interview (baseline) and telephone interview (6-month follow-up).

Results

Most participants were white (62%), men (63%), had children (58%), and owned a gun for protection (74%). At follow-up, of the 82 participants, 63 (77%) (up from 39 [48%]) reported storing their gun(s) in a locked compartment (P = .004), 59 (72%) (up from 0) reported using gun locks (P = .001), 61 (74%) (up from 57 [69%]) reported storing their ammunition locked in a separate location, 59 (72%) (up from 52 [63%]) reported storing their gun(s) unloaded, and 6 (7%) (down from 15 [18%]) reported storing firearms unlocked and loaded. Participants with children were more likely at baseline to store weapons unlocked and loaded (38 [59%] vs 19 [41%]; P = .02) but were more likely after counseling to lock their weapons (29 [58%] vs 14 [44%]) and remove guns from the home (5 [10%] vs 0 [0%]).

Conclusions

This program prompted reporting of safer firearm storage practices, particularly among parents. Longer follow-up, verification of self-reports and correct use, testing of gun locks, and monitoring firearm injury rates after distribution programs are needed to establish the public health potential of this approach.

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