Certain gun storage practices can reduce risk of youth firearm injuries, suicide

Keeping a gun locked, unloaded, and storing ammunition in a locked and separate location can lower the risk of unintentional injuries and suicide among youth, according to a study in the February 9 issue of JAMA.

According to background information in the article, the presence of a household firearm is associated with an increased risk of suicide among adults and adolescents. In a study of suicide attempters and completers, investigators found that 75 percent of the guns were stored in the residence of the victim, friend, or relative. Another study found that 35 percent of homes in the United States with children younger than 18 years reported at least 1 firearm, and that 43 percent of these homes had at least 1 unlocked firearm. Many organizations and health authorities advocate locking firearms and ammunition to prevent access to guns by children and adolescents. The association of these firearm storage practices with the reduction of firearm injury risk has been unclear.

David Grossman, M.D., M.P.H., of the Group Health Cooperative and the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues measured the association of household firearm storage practices and the risk of unintentional and self-inflicted firearm injuries as a result of child or adolescent access to firearms in the home. The researchers examined records from medical examiner and coroner offices and hospitals from 37 counties in Washington, Oregon, and Missouri, and 5 trauma centers in Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma, Wash., and Kansas City, Mo. They included data that involved an incident in which a child or adolescent younger than 20 years gained access to a firearm and shot himself/herself intentionally or unintentionally or shot another individual unintentionally.

The researchers identified a control group of eligible households with at least 1 firearm and children living or visiting in the home. The researchers interviewed 106 respondents in which a shooting incident occurred

Contact: Joan DeClaire
JAMA and Archives Journals

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