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Distributing Firearm Locks Through Pediatricians' Offices Achieves Safer Gun Storage

Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial
Shari Barkin, Edward H. Ip, Joe Craig, Stacia Finch, Richard Wasserman.. Pediatrics, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC; Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, W-S, NC; Pediatrics, Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics, Denver, CO; PROS CCHR, AAP, Elk Grove Village, IL; Pediatrics, University of Vermont, CCHR, Burlington, VT.

Background: Thirty-five percent of US households with a child under 18 years have at least 1 firearm, and 43% of these homes have at least 1 unlocked firearm. Many organizations advocate locking firearms and ammunition to prevent access to guns by children. However, the effectiveness of programs to achieve safer storage has not been demonstrated.
 
Objective: To determine the effect of office provision of firearm cable locks on safe storage practices.
 
Design/Methods: As part of a larger study examining a violence prevention intervention, Pediatric Research in Office Settings (PROS) practices were randomized to either provide firearm safety education and a cable lock or only firearm safety education during the well child visit. Eligible participants included families with children ages 2-11 presenting for their well child visit who spoke English or Spanish. Parents reported firearm ownership, receipt of cable lock, firearm storage pattern attitudes and behaviors. Families were contacted 1 and 6 months later via a telephone interview to assess use of cable locks (primary outcome).
 
Results: Ninety percent of respondents were mothers with children ages 2-11 years, by design, 50% were ages 2-5 years. Parent demographics were: 25% single-parents; 55% completed high school only; 14% African-American, 16% Latino, 64% White, and 6% "Other." Twenty-seven percent of families reported a firearm in the home. Analyses were restricted to those who described themselves as the gun-owner or the person responsible for gun storage (60% of those reporting firearms in the home). Offering cable locks with education on firearm storage resulted in 16% of intervention group families using cable locks 6 months later, while control group families reported a 3.4% decrease in use of gunlocks. Total effect size was therefore 19.3%.
 
Conclusions: Providing cable locks to firearm owners with unsafe storage as part of well child care results in safer reported firearm storage patterns.
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