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050 Did availability and interest in voluntary, temporary firearm storage change during the COVID-19 pandemic? Results from a two-state survey of firearm retailers/ranges
  1. Sara Brandspigel1,
  2. Rachel Johnson1,
  3. Marian Betz2,
  4. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar3,
  5. Leslie Barnard1,
  6. Frederick Rivara3
  1. 1Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, USA
  2. 2University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, USA
  3. 3University of Washington, Seattle, USA


Statement of Purpose To support suicide prevention efforts, Colorado and Washington have online maps of locations willing to consider requests for voluntary, temporary firearm storage – including firearm retailers/ranges. With an increase in firearm sales and suicide risk factors during the COVID-19 pandemic, we sought to examine whether the pandemic led to changes in firearm storage requests and provisions.

Methods/Approach Between June-August 2021, the study team mailed surveys to all firearm retailers/ranges in Colorado and Washington State with questions including whether they provide firearm storage, the impact of COVID-19 on business operations and their willingness to store.

Results 139 firearm retailers/ranges responded to our survey (26% response rate). Retailers/ranges reported the most common ways COVID-19 affected business operations were inventory problems with ammunition (68.3%) and firearms (60.4%) and increase in sales (61.9%). When we asked retailers/ranges that have ever provided storage whether their willingness to do so changed during the 2020 pandemic, 84.2% said it was about the same, 7.0% said they were more likely to provide storage and 3.5% were less likely. We observed state differences in how COVID-19 affected firearm storage requests, with 30% of Washington retailers stating they received fewer requests for storage during COVID-19, compared to 8% in Colorado (P=.029).

Conclusion Overall, firearm retailers/ranges offering voluntary, temporary storage did not report major changes in their willingness to provide storage during the pandemic, and most did not report a change in frequency of requests, although there was a large increase in sales of firearms and ammunition. State differences in COVID-19 response may have contributed to variations in firearm storage requests.

Significance With increased firearm sales and risk factors for suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to understand the landscape of temporary firearm storage provision. Temporary out-of-home storage remains a viable option to reduce suicide risk.

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