Children and Firearms in the Home: A Southwestern Ohio Ambulatory Research Network (SOAR-Net) Study

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Background: To ascertain the prevalence of gun ownership, gun safety education, and parental attitudes on gun counseling in a Midwestern sample. Methods: Parents seeking care at participating practices in the Southwestern Ohio Ambulatory Research Network were recruited to complete a survey about gun ownership, gun safety education, and gun counseling attitudes. Attitudes and beliefs were compared between gun owners and non-gun owners. Results: Twenty-four percent of respondents had at least 1 gun in the home. Military families were more likely to own a gun than civilian families (28% vs 18%, P = .001). Fifty-two percent of sample children have received gun safety education. Eight percent indicated that a physician had asked about guns or discussed gun safety issues during an office visit. A majority of parents indicated that physicians should ask about guns in the home (69%) and advise parents on safe storage (75%), but they should not advise parents to remove guns from the home (12% of gun owners, 42% of non-gun owners). Conclusions: Despite the morbidity and mortality associated with guns, physicians in this study do not seem to be addressing this risk with families. A majority of gun owners do not agree that physicians should counsel the removal of guns from the home but agree that they should discuss safe gun storage information.