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Matern Child Health J. 2015 Jan;19(1):17-24. doi: 10.1007/s10995-014-1490-3.

Family process correlates of firearm ownership and firearm storage among families with young children.

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Département de Psychoéducation, Université de Sherbrooke, Pavillon A7, 2500 Boul. De l'Université, Sherbrooke, QC, J1K 2R1, Canada,


To understand how family relations and dynamics were associated with firearm ownership among US families with 4-year-olds and with firearm storage among those families with firearms, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics of families and states. With representative data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (n = 8,100), logistic regression models employed a set of family process variables (e.g., parenting practices, parental stress, maternal depression, and safety behaviors) as (1) predictors of firearm ownership among all families and, (2) as predictors of safe firearm storage among firearm owning families. An estimated 22 % of families with pre-kindergarten age children reported having firearms in their households. Among firearm owning families, 69 % of families kept firearms in a locked cabinet. Comparing families who did and did not report owning firearms, those who did were more likely to report spanking their children. Firearm owning parents who reported higher levels of parenting stress and lower likelihood that their child always wore a helmet when bicycling were also more likely to report unsafe firearm storage practices. Family processes differentiated both firearm owners from non-firearm owners and firearms owners who locked up their firearms from firearm owners who did not. These findings suggest that firearm ownership and firearm safety behaviors likely arise from a more general family context related to child health and safety.

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