GUN CONTROL: Many U.S. Kids Have Access to Unlocked Guns
As many as 8.3 million American children live in homes with unlocked guns, according to a study in this month's American Journal of Public Health. Based on information from the 1994 National Health Interview Survey and the Year 2000 Objective supplement, researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles found that more than 11 million homes nationwide with children younger than 18 -- accounting for more than 22 million children -- have at least one firearm. Of those households, 43% had at least one unlocked gun. Unlocked is defined as being in an unlocked place without a trigger lock. Thirty-nine percent of households stored locked and unloaded firearms away from ammunition. Nine percent of those households with children contained unlocked and loaded guns, while 4% had guns unlocked and unloaded but stored with ammunition. Researchers said that those statistics add up to 1.4 million homes with 2.6 million children where firearms are stored "in a manner most accessible to children." Lead author Dr. Mark Schuster said, "I think no one preventative measure is going to do everything. We need a multifaceted approach." Researchers suggested that effort by "clinicians, public health workers and lawmakers" are necessary to heighten awareness "about the risks associated with firearms and how to reduce those risks." Schuster warned, "The primary responsibility, (however), still lies with adults to make firearms inaccessible to their children. Pediatricians should raise the issue of firearm safety with all of their patients" (Reuters Health, 3/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.