State gun safe storage laws and child mortality due to firearms

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State gun safe storage laws and child mortality due to firearms

Category: Firearm Policies, Homicide, Suicide, Unintentional, Youth|Journal: JAMA|Author: D Grossman, F Rivara, P Cummings, T Koepsell|Year: 1997

CONTEXT:

Since 1989, several states have passed laws that make gun owners criminally liable if someone is injured because a child gains unsupervised access to a gun. These laws are controversial, and their effect on firearm-related injuries is unknown.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine if state laws that require safe storage of firearms are associated with a reduction in child mortality due to firearms.

DESIGN:

An ecological study of firearm mortality from 1979 through 1994.

SETTING:

All 50 states and the District of Columbia.

PARTICIPANTS:

All children younger than 15 years.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Unintentional deaths, suicides, and homicides due to firearms.

RESULTS:

Laws that make gun owners responsible for storing firearms in a manner that makes them inaccessible to children were in effect for at least 1 year in 12 states from 1990 through 1994. Among children younger than 15 years, unintentional shooting deaths were reduced by 23% (95% confidence interval, 6%-37%) during the years covered by these laws. This estimate was based on within-state comparisons adjusted for national trends in unintentional firearm-related mortality. Gun-related homicide and suicide showed modest declines, but these were not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS:

State safe storage laws intended to make firearms less accessible to children appear to prevent unintentional shooting deaths among children younger than 15 years.

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