Statement of Purpose Firearms are the leading cause of death for high-school aged youth, with firearm access the most significant risk factor for adolescent firearm injury. Parental rules regarding teen firearm access have not been previously characterized. We estimate prevalence of firearm safety/access rules among parents of high-school age teens and parental correlates of maintaining teen firearm safety/access rules.
Methods/Approach Data was from a cross-sectional web-based survey (6/24/2020–7/22/2020) conducted among parents (n=2,924) of high-school age teens (age:14–18). Weights were applied to generate nationally representative estimates. Bivariate comparisons were examined.
Results Among U.S. parents of high-school teens, 84.5% (95%CI=82.1–85.7) maintain rules with their teen regarding firearm access/safety. For example, most do not allow their teen to access firearms (40.0%) or allow only supervised access (27.0%). Few families (2.6%) allow unsupervised firearm access, with firearm-owning families allowing for more unsupervised access (3.1% vs 1.3%; p=.21). The prevalence of rules governing teen firearm access differed by household firearm ownership, with firearm-owning families more likely to maintain rules than non-firearm owning families (94.8% vs 72.1%; p<0.01). Notably, 19.3% of firearm-owning families maintained different rules regarding teen firearm access for handguns and long-guns. Bivariate comparisons identified factors associated with maintaining any teen firearm safety/access rules, including non-Hispanic White race/ethnicity (OR=2.23; 95%CI=1.47–3.37), lower parental educational attainment (OR=0.52; 95%CI=0.28–0.97), greater parental monitoring (OR=2.73; 95%CI=1.14–6.56), greater household firearm ownership (OR=7.09; 95%CI=4.10–12.26), and greater teen firearm safety training (OR=7.68; 95%CI=4.49–13.12).
Significance Firearm owning families have different rules than non-firearm owning families, including greater unsupervised firearm access and greater teen firearm safety training. Future research should examine optimal interventions for limiting unsupervised teen access to firearms, as well as whether more restrictive parental rules are efficacious decreasing teen access and injury risk.
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