Data were collected from parents bringing children to selected pediatric practices in Maryland using questionnaires and focus group discussions. Gun ownership ranged from 27% in the suburban practice to 53% in the rural practice. Unrealistic perceptions of children's capabilities and behavioral tendencies with regard to guns were common among gun owners. Half of all gunowning parents believed that active strategies (eg, education, supervision) were the best method of preventing gun injuries to children older than 12 years of age. Nearly all gun owners indicated a willingness to follow their pediatrician's advice about gun storage, but only 19% of the mothers and 10% of the fathers said they would follow advice to remove guns from the home. Among parents who did not have a gun in the home, 40% said they would consider obtaining one if they felt threatened; however, 73% of these parents indicated they would be dissuaded from doing so by a pediatrician's advice about the risks of keeping guns in the home. Results suggested that pediatricians will be most effective if they recommend passive strategies (eg, removing guns from the home or storing guns unloaded and locked) on the basis of children's developmental capabilities and behavioral tendencies and make their recommendations part of general counseling about child safety.
- Received April 12, 1991.
- Accepted May 22, 1991.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics