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Regional differences in firearm ownership, storage and use: results from a representative survey of five US states

Abstract

Background Firearm access and storage practices influence risk for injury and death; however, prior research has considered only national and regional differences on these variables, overlooking state-level differences.

Objectives To analyse and describe statewide differences in firearm ownership, storage and use in a representative sample of five US states.

Design Variables were assessed via an online self-report survey administered between 29 April 2022 and 15 May 2022.

Setting Surveys were completed online.

Participants Participants (n=3510) were members of knowledge panel, a probability-based sample recruited to be representative of US adults. All participants were aged 18+ and resided in one of five states: Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey or Texas.

Measurements We used χ2 tests to examine state differences in firearm ownership, childhood firearm experiences and purchasing. A series of analyses of covariance were then used to assess differences in firearm storage, firearms owned and carrying behaviours while adjusting for pertinent demographic characteristics.

Results We found significant differences in firearm ownership across states. There were significantly more first-time firearm purchasers during the firearm purchasing surge in New Jersey. Both Mississippi and Texas have elevated rates of unsecure storage practices and firearm carrying outside of the home.

Limitations Results are cross-sectional and self-report. Findings may not generalise beyond the five states assessed in this survey.

Conclusions Public health messaging around firearm safety should account for differences in key firearm behaviours related to ownership, storage and use to ensure effective communication and reduce the risk of gun injury and death across states.

  • Firearm
  • Suicide/Self?Harm
  • Risk Perception

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Data will be made available on reasonable request to the corresponding author.

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