Determinants of How Firearms Are Stored in Households with Children

Overview

This study will use findings from a nationally representative survey to better understand the factors and interventions that may increase the use of safe firearm storage practices and reduce the number of gun-related suicides and injuries among children.

Grant Amount: $481,261

Organization: Northeastern University

Investigators: Matthew Miller, professor of health sciences and epidemiology, Northeastern University, and co-director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center; and Debora Azrael, director of research, Harvard Injury Control Research Center

Expected Completion Date: Mid-2021

Project Summary

Purpose

Gain a better understanding of the factors that determine how parents store their firearms and of the effectiveness of child access prevention laws and lethal means counseling in increasing the use of safe firearm storage practices.

Approach

Use a nationally representative survey of approximately 4,000 U.S. adults who live in households with firearms, including a subsample of several hundred adolescents ages 13-17, and the adolescent’s parent, to explore the following questions:

  • What role do child access prevention laws play in motivating safe storage of household firearms?
  • From parents’ perspective, what role does lethal means counseling play in firearm storage practices?
  • How common is it for gun-owning parents to underestimate whether their children have ready access to household guns?

Significance

This study will inform policies and interventions that aim to increase use of safe firearm storage practices and reduce the number of gun-related suicides and injuries among children.

Investigator Bios

  • Matthew Miller is professor of health sciences and epidemiology, Northeastern University; adjunct professor of epidemiology, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health; and co-director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Dr. Miller is a leader in the field of injury prevention, a recipient of the Excellence in Science Award from the injury and violence section of the American Public Health Association, and assistant editor of the journal Injury Epidemiology. His research focuses on firearm violence and suicide prevention.
  • Debora Azrael is director of research at Harvard Injury Control Research Center. A leader in the field of injury prevention, Dr. Azrael plays a leading role in the Center’s survey-related work (including each of the Center's five national firearms surveys). She was co-director of the pilot for the National Violent Death Reporting System. Her research focuses on firearm violence and suicide prevention.