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Pediatrics. 1999 Nov;104(5 Pt 1):1059-63.

Firearms in the home: parental perceptions.

Author information

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Emergency Medicine, Egleston Children's Hospital, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. farah@emailchop.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Each year, thousands of children are injured or killed from unintentional gunshot wounds. Discovering a gun while playing in the home places children at risk of being injured by the firearm.

OBJECTIVES:

To determine parental firearm storage practices and parental perceptions of the behavior of their children around guns.

METHODS:

Cross-sectional survey of parents of children from 4 to 12 years of age. A sample of 424 parents, bringing their children to one of five pediatric ambulatory care centers, were asked to complete a 20-point self-administered questionnaire at the time of their visit.

RESULTS:

A total of 400 parents (94%) completed the questionnaire; 113 parents (28%) reported keeping a firearm (most often a handgun) in the home. Firearm owners were predominantly male, 30 years of age or older, white, and married. Of the gun owners, 52% stored their firearms loaded or unlocked, and 13% kept one or more guns loaded and unlocked. Three fourths of gun-owning parents believed that their 4- to 12-year-old child could tell the difference between a toy gun and a real gun, and 23% believed that their child could be trusted with a loaded gun. Although the majority of gun-owning parents (53%) endorsed safe storage as the best firearm injury prevention strategy, 61% of parents who do not own firearms endorse not owning guns as the best way to prevent pediatric firearm injuries.

CONCLUSION:

A majority of gun-owning parents store their firearms loaded or unlocked, substantially underestimating the risk of injury to their children. Many firearm-owning parents trust their child with a loaded gun and believe that their young child can tell the difference between a toy gun and a real gun.

PMID:
10545547
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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