Prevalence and Correlates of Firearm Ownership in the Homes of Fifth Graders

Birmingham, AL, Houston, TX, and Los Angeles, CA

Published In: Health Education and Behavior, v. 41, no. 3, June 2014, p. 299-306

by David C. Schwebel, Terri Lewis, Thomas R. Simon, Marc N. Elliott, Sara L. Toomey, Susan R. Tortolero, Paula Cuccaro, Mark A. Schuster

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Firearms in the home are associated with increased injury risk, especially when loaded and unlocked. In this study, 5,010 fifth-graders and their caregivers in three U.S. metropolitan areas participated in the 2004-2006 Healthy Passages study on adolescent health. Firearm ownership and storage patterns were examined by four self-reported sociodemographic characteristics (child's race/ethnicity, child's gender, family socioeconomic status, and study site) and reasons for ownership. Eighteen percent (n = 880) of the families reported firearms in the home. Families with African American and Hispanic children had lower odds of owning firearms than families with non-Hispanic White children. The most common reasons for ownership were protection from crime and hunting. Six percent (n = 56) of the families with firearms stored at least one firearm unlocked, assembled, without a trigger lock, and with unlocked ammunition. Compared with families with non-Hispanic White children, families with African American children engaged in safer storage practices. Results can inform childhood firearm injury prevention activities.

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