Background: Safer storage practices may reduce injury rates by limiting youth access to firearms. Objective: To determine if a firearm safety counseling and gun lock distribution program improved storage practices. Design: Community-based before-after trial. Setting: Urban county in central North Carolina. Participants: One hundred twelve adult gun owners recruited through a mass media advertising campaign. Intervention: In the parking lot of a shopping mall, participants completed a survey, and were then provided with tailored counseling, gun safety information, a gun lock, and instructions to use it. Main Outcome Measures: Firearm storage practices, assessed by survey and personal interview (baseline) and telephone interview (6-month follow-up). Results: Most participants were white (62%), men (63%), had children (58%), and owned a gun for protection (74%). At follow-up, of the 82 participants, 63 (77%) (up from 39 [48%]) reported storing their gun(s) in a locked compartment (P=.004), 59 (72%) (up from 0) reported using gun locks (P=.001), 61 (74%) (up from 57 [69%]) reported storing their ammunition locked in a separate location, 59 (72%) (up from 52 [63%]) reported storing their gun(s) unloaded, and 6 (7%) (down from 15 [18%]) reported storing firearms unlocked and loaded. Participants with children were more likely at baseline to store weapons unlocked and loaded (38 [59%] vs 19 [41%]; P=.02) but were more likely after counseling to lock their weapons (29 [58%] vs 14 [44%1) and remove guns from the home (5 [10%] vs 0 [0%]). Conclusions: This program prompted reporting of safer firearm storage practices, particularly among parents. Longer follow-up, verification of self-reports and correct use, testing of gun locks, and monitoring firearm injury rates after distribution programs are needed to establish the public health potential of this approach.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health