Commentary looks at childhood firearm exposure and adult outcomes
In response to a study by Copeland et al. testing the associations of childhood domestic gun access with subsequent adult criminality and suicidality, Asad Bandealy, M.D., M.P.H., pediatrician, and other experts at Children’s National Hospital, argued that what happens in childhood in terms of firearm exposure matters in adulthood.
In the commentary, the authors noted that the study by Copeland et al. found that having access to a gun in the home was associated with adult firearm ownership and carriage, gun violence exposure and suicidality. Having a firearm in the home without access as a child was associated with adult ownership and carriage, but not criminality or suicidality. These findings provide further support for harm reduction approaches that focus on culturally competent counseling and clear conversations on safe storage to reduce child access.
In addition, the commentary called for supporting families in restricting child access to firearms, which may save lives into adulthood.
“There is a paucity of research related to firearms in general and particularly interventions to reduce firearm morbidity and mortality,” the authors wrote.
The authors commented on the need for more funding and training opportunities after decades of ‘stifling’ firearm research. Lastly, they emphasized that resources should be prioritized to enhance practice and policy interventions that will reduce firearm deaths in children and adolescents.