Risky Firearms Behavior in Low-Income Families of Elementary School Children: The Impact of Poverty, Fear of Crime, and Crime Victimization on Keeping and Storing Firearms

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Risky Firearms Behavior in Low-Income Families of Elementary School Children: The Impact of Poverty, Fear of Crime, and Crime Victimization on Keeping and Storing Firearms

Category: Crime, Firearm Availability|Journal: Journal of Family Violence (full text)|Author: E Vacha, T McLaughlin|Year: 2004

This report examines possession and storage of firearms in low-income urban families with at least one child between 8 and 12 years of age. The data primarily consisted of responses to a survey administered to parents, but these data were supplemented by records obtained from discussion groups composed of children between 8 and 12 years of age. The data were collected from five low-income neighborhoods in a medium sized city in the Pacific Northwest as part of a larger study focusing on the presence of risk factors for substance abuse, violence, and gang activity. All five neighborhoods are known to be plagued by poverty, violence, substance abuse, and gang activity. To make our findings more understandable, we compared our findings from these neighborhoods to similar data from a middle-class neighborhood. Middle-class parents were twice as likely to have firearms in their homes, but were much less likely to keep them loaded and/or unlocked. High rates of victimization, fear of crime, self-protective behavior, and exposure to threats or attacks were associated with keeping firearms for protection and engaging in risky gun behavior in the home.

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