Handgun safety: What do consumers learn from gun dealers?

Sandra M. Sanguino*, M. Denise Dowd, Sean A. McEnaney, Jane Knapp, Robert R. Tanz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: To explore the type and quality of handgun safety information a typical consumer would obtain from a licensed gun dealer. Methods: Semistructured, interactional on-site interviews were conducted with licensed handgun dealers in 2 metropolitan areas. A variety of dealers (gun shops, pawnshops, general merchandise stores, and sporting goods stores) were visited. Investigators posed as customers interested in buying a handgun. During the interview, investigators expressed concern that as the parent of a 4-year-old child, they needed suggestions about keeping their child safe with a gun in the home. Information collected included basic dealer demographics, opinions on whether a 4-year-old child could pull a handgun trigger, handgun safety advice and recommendations, and the type of safety devices and handgun safety educational materials that were available in the store. Results: There were 96 visits made to gun dealers. The typical salesperson was a man who appeared to be older than 40 years. Trigger locks were the most common safety devices available. When asked what a consumer should know about purchasing a handgun, 85% of salespeople did not mention safe storage. Only 9 (9%) offered advice that included all of the following: keeping the gun securely locked, keeping the gun unloaded, and storing the gun separately from the ammunition. One third answered "no" or "don't know" or "uncertain" when asked if a 4-year-old could pull the trigger. The majority (92%) did not have any handgun safe storage educational materials on site. Conclusions: Salespeople offered potential buyers little or no education about safe storage of handguns. The information provided was often inconsistent with the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-780
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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