A new systemic review finds that when gun owners are given a safe storage device and some counseling, they will likely practice safe firearm storage. In cases where gun owners are provided counseling only, the interventions don’t work as well.
[Photo: Dr. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar]
Researchers from the University of Washington School of Public Health and the UW’s Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center analyzed studies of household firearm safety interventions that educated or counseled gun owners on safe firearm storage.
The review, published online in Epidemiologic Reviews, looked at seven clinic- and community-based studies published in 2000–2012. Three of these studies offered free firearm storage devices – in each study, safe firearm storage rates increased. Meanwhile, of the four studies that only provided counseling, only one showed an increase in safe firearm storage.
“Unsafe firearm storage is an important public health and public safety issue in the United States,” said lead investigator Dr. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, assistant professor of epidemiology. “Safe firearm storage saves lives.”
The investigators suggest that effective gun safety interventions might require approaching firearm storage with the same attention to complexity as other healthcare interventions addressing chronic disease management or substance use disorders.
“One of the most important things we learned while conducting the study is that we don’t know very much,” Dr. Rowhani-Rahbar said. “There is a void in rigorously conducted randomized controlled trials surrounding this topic.”
Co-authors were Dr. Frederick Rivara and Dr. Joseph Simonetti.