Firearms Storage in Homes with Children at Risk for Self-Harm

August 03, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

A national study found that about one-third of homes with children and firearms follow safe storage practices recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Having a child in the home with a history of depression, mental health issues, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder did not significantly affect household decisions about the presence or storage of firearms.

Researchers used data from a nationally representative 2015 survey of U.S. adults. Respondents self-reported (1) how many children lived in the home; (2) whether firearms were present, and how many; (3) how firearms were stored, including locked, unloaded, or both; and (4) whether any children had a history of self-harm risk factors such as depression, mental health conditions other than depression, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

The analysis found that just over two in five households with children contained firearms, regardless of whether the children had a history of self-harm risk factors. Further, the presence of a child in the home with a history of self-harm risk factors did not influence decisions to store firearms locked or unloaded.

The authors concluded that too many children, regardless of their risk for self-harm, live in homes where firearms are not stored according to safety recommendations. These findings point to a need for additional education on safe firearms storage, particularly for households with children at risk for self-harm.

Scott, J., Azrael, D., & Miller, M. (2018). Firearm storage in homes with children with self-harm risk factors. Pediatrics, 141(3).