Parents’ Perspectives on Safe Storage of Firearms

Academic Article


  • Firearms contribute substantially to leading causes of death among US children ages 10–19 (suicide and homicide). Safe storage of guns is important but poorly adopted. This study sought to understand knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and firearm storage practices among parents living in households with firearms. Focus groups (FG) were conducted with gun-owning parents/guardians in three US states with high firearm ownership. Participants also completed an anonymous survey which included demographic characteristics, previous gun education, purpose of gun ownership, and storage practices. Eight FG were conducted with 57 parents. 74% of participants stored at least one firearm unlocked, with many loaded. Overall risk perception for firearm injury was low. Many participants believed modeling responsible use within the family would demystify the presence of a firearm and decrease accidental shootings. There was strong perception that safe storage interferes with personal protection needs, especially for handguns. Trigger locks were considered a nuisance and rarely used. Parents were confident in their youth’s ability to handle guns safely and did not believe that safe storage would deter suicide. Preferred messengers for safe storage education were military or law enforcement rather than physicians. Participants advocated for safe storage education paired with hands-on use education. Gun-owning parents supported safety education and endorsed education from nonmedical sources. Education about suicide prevention may improve adoption of safe storage by parents. These results will inform the development of a firearm safe storage campaign with improved acceptability for communities with high firearms use and ownership.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Aitken ME; Minster SD; Mullins SH; Hirsch HM; Unni P; Monroe K; Miller BK
  • Start Page

  • 469
  • End Page

  • 477
  • Volume

  • 45
  • Issue

  • 3