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Evaluation of a community-based safe firearm and ammunition storage intervention

Abstract

Background Safe firearm storage practices are associated with a lower risk of unintentional and self-inflicted firearm injuries among household members, though many firearms remain unlocked and/or loaded.

Objectives Conduct a preliminary evaluation of a community-based firearm safety intervention and assess participants’ preferences for firearm locking devices and their comfort with potential firearm safety counsellors.

Design/Methods Baseline event and follow-up surveys among adult participants to assess changes in firearm storage practices, including whether all household firearms were stored locked, all were unloaded, all ammunition was locked, and a composite measure assessing whether all firearms were locked and unloaded and all ammunition was stored locked.

Results A total of 206 out of 415 participants completed both surveys and were included. Nearly 9 in 10 respondents preferred the firearm lock box rather than a trigger lock. At follow-up, a significantly greater proportion reported that all household firearms were locked (+13.7%) and unloaded (+8.5%) and a non-significantly greater proportion reported that all ammunition was locked (+6.3%). A significantly greater proportion reported practising all three safe firearm and ammunition storage practices at follow-up (+12.6%). A majority reported they would be comfortable or very comfortable discussing firearm safety with various safety counsellors, though women were less likely to do so than men.

Conclusion This intervention that included distribution of a free, participant-selected locking device improved safe firearm storage practices among participants. Differences in participant preferences for devices and safety counsellors suggest that a ‘one size fits all’ approach may be inadequate in affecting population-level storage practices.

  • firearms
  • injury prevention
  • suicide
  • unintentional injury
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