Parent and adolescent reports of adolescent access to household firearms in the United States

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Parent and adolescent reports of adolescent access to household firearms in the United States

Category: Firearm Availability, Youth|Journal: JAMA Network Open (full text)|Author: C Salhi, D Azrael, M Miller|Year: 2021

Importance

Adolescent access to firearms increases their risk of firearm injury.

 

Objective

To examine adolescent firearm access in homes with guns, how storage may modify access, and discordance between parent and adolescent report of access.

 

Design, Setting, and Participants

This survey study used data on parents and their adolescent children from a nationally representative online survey of adults in gun-owning households, conducted from June 30 to August 11, 2019. Individuals who owned firearms and parents of adolescents were oversampled. All parents living with a child aged 13 to 17 years were invited to have their child participate in a separate survey. Respondents with more than 1 adolescent living with them were asked to choose the child with the most recent birthday. Analyses were conducted from June 1, 2020, to January 4, 2021.

 

Main Outcomes and Measures

Firearm access was assessed by asking adolescents how long it would take to access a loaded gun in their home. Parents were asked whether their child could independently access a household firearm. Individuals who owned guns reported firearm storage practices. Study-specific poststratification weights adjusted for survey nonresponse and undercoverage or overcoverage resulting from the study-specific sample design and for benchmark demographic distributions.

 

Results

Of 6721 adults invited to participate, 4030 completed the survey. Of these, 280 had a firearm in their homes and had a child aged 13 to 17 years who participated in the survey. The mean (SD) age of parents was 45.2 (7.2) years; of children, 15.0 (1.4) years. The sample included 159 male adolescents (weighted percentage, 60.8%; 95% CI, 53.8%-67.8%) and 129 male adults (weighted percentage, 48.3%; 95% CI, 40.9%-55.6%). In 33.9% (95% CI, 26.7%-41.2%) of households, an adolescent reported that they could access a loaded firearm in less than 5 minutes. In homes where all guns were locked, 23.7% (95% CI, 12.3%-35.1%) of adolescents reported that they could access a loaded firearm in less than 5 minutes. Overall, 70.4% (95% CI, 63.7%-77.1%) of parents reported that their child could not access a household firearm. In households where parents said their child could not access a firearm, 21.8% (95% CI 13.8%-29.7%) of their children indicated that they could access a firearm within 5 minutes and 14.9% (95% CI, 8.9%-20.9%) indicated that they could access a firearm in more than 5 minutes but less than 1 hour.

 

Conclusions and Relevance

In this study, many adolescents reported having ready access to loaded guns in their homes, even when all household firearms were locked. Many adolescents who reported having access to household firearms lived with parents who knew their children had access, but others lived with parents who did not know. These finding should inform prevention efforts aimed at reducing adolescent access to household firearms.

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