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Motivations for firearm possession and storage practices among urban young adults: differences between parents and non-parents
  1. Rebeccah Lyn Sokol1,
  2. Carissa Schmidt2,
  3. Alison L Miller2,
  4. Maureen A Walton3,4,
  5. Marc Zimmerman2,3,5,
  6. Kenneth Resnicow2,
  7. Rebecca M Cunningham3,4,5,6,7,
  8. Patrick M Carter2,3,5,6
  1. 1School of Social Work, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA
  2. 2Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  3. 3University of Michigan Injury Prevention Center, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
  4. 4Addiction Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
  5. 5Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
  6. 6Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  7. 7Emergency Medicine, Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rebeccah Lyn Sokol, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48514, USA; rlsokol{at}


Objectives To evaluate motivations for firearm possession among urban young adults and determine if differences emerge between parents and non-parents, and to identify if storage practices differed according to motivation for firearm possession and parenting status.

Methods We used cross-sectional data among young adults seeking urban emergency department treatment at Hurley Medical Center between 2017 and 2018. Our analyses, completed in 2020, included 194 firearm-possessing young adults, 95 of whom were young parents.

Results Firearm-possessing parents were more likely to have a firearm for protection, than for any other motivation, compared with firearm-possessing non-parents (OR: 2.38, 95% CI 1.06 to 5.46). A significant interaction between parenting status and motivation for possession indicated the association between protective motivations and locked storage was significantly different between parents and non-parents, whereby there was a decreased odds of locked storage among non-parents who were motivated to possess a firearm for protection compared with any other motivation, but this association did not exist for parents (interaction OR=10.57, p<0.05).

Conclusion Parental motivation for possessing a firearm most often lies in the desire to protect families. This motivation, however, does not necessitate unsafe storage.

  • firearm
  • public health
  • violence
  • cross-sectional study
  • urban

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  • Contributors RLS developed the present study aims and analytical plan, ran the analyses and led the manuscript writing. PMC advised the development of the present study aims, led data collection, advised the analyses and contributed to manuscript writing and editing. CS contributed to the development of the present study aims, and contributed to manuscript writing and editing. ALM, MAW, MZ, KR and RMC contributed to manuscript writing and editing.

  • Funding RLS’s work on this study was funded by a postdoctoral award through the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (F32HD100021-01). In addition, the research presented in this study was funded by National Institute on Drug Abuse K23DA039341.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, conduct, reporting or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available. Data are currently unavailable for analysis outside the research team.