2019 - 2022, Complete

National Survey of Firearm-owning Parents and Youth

Affiliated Project
Kid taking a survey

This study will examine the prevalence, contextual factors, and beliefs and perceptions surrounding firearm behaviors among a nationally representative sample of adolescent high-school aged children and their parents. Participants will complete a web-based survey exploring a series of risk and protective factors across peers, families, schools, and communities for firearm behaviors and underlying motivations and characteristics of these behaviors. In addition, the survey will identify perceptions and attitudes about both firearm behaviors and healthcare-based firearm safety screening and counseling. Results will inform firearm safety programs and future longitudinal studies examining firearm safety among children and teens.


This FACTs Consortium pilot project will conduct a cross-sectional survey among a nationally-representative sample of high-school age adolescent youth (ages 14-18), as well as their parents, to understand key factors related to the prevention of firearm injuries among adolescent-aged youth. The Specific Aims for the proposed project are:

Aim 1: To characterize the prevalence of firearm behaviors, including access, carriage, use, and lifetime/past year history of firearm-associated outcomes (i.e., non-fatal injuries, firearm violence consequences) among U.S. adolescents (age 14-18), as well as to understand risk and protective factors associated with these behaviors across socio-ecological levels (individual, peer, family, community). Behaviors will be examined for the full sample and by census region (Northeast, Midwest, West, & South).

Aim 2: To characterize contextual factors surrounding firearm behaviors among the subsample of adolescent youth reporting firearm access, carriage, use, and/or prior injury or consequences. Domains of interest may include the age of initial firearm access and/or carriage, patterns of carriage (intermittent vs. persistent), firearm typology and mode of acquisition (i.e., if firearm acquired independently of the parent), patterns of access for firearms in the household (e.g., only with parental permission), motivations for carriage, type/frequency of firearm activities (e.g., flossing/gunplay, situational carriage [e.g., while buying or selling drugs], hunting, sport or target shooting, threats and/or aggression against partners/non-partners, defensive firearm use), and circumstances of prior firearm injuries (e.g., injury intent, anatomical location, extent of subsequent disability/ADLs).

Aim 3: To assess perceptions/attitudes towards firearms, school shootings, proposed safety practices and policies (e.g., armed teachers/guards in schools, self-efficacy with asking neighbors about firearms in the home, etc.), and healthcare-based screening and counseling (e.g., anticipatory guidance on safe storage, lethal means counseling) among the entire adolescent youth and parent sample.

Aim 4: To assess, among adolescents and their parents who report having a firearm in the home, knowledge, attitudes, barriers, and family use/uptake of existing firearm safety practices (e.g., safe storage, trigger locks), novel firearm safety technologies (e.g., higher pressure firearm triggers, RFID/fingerprint technology), as well as assess prior exposure and safety practice changes made in response to healthcare-based counseling (e.g., anticipatory guidance on safe storage, lethal means counseling).

Aim 5: To characterize concordance/discordance between firearm-owning parents and their adolescent children regarding firearm access (e.g., location of household firearms, ease of access, storage methods), handling of firearms located in the home, firearm carriage (including carriage to school, age of initiation of carriage/firearm behaviors, etc.), and knowledge about prior adolescent firearm use (e.g., target shooting/hunting, inadvertent discharge or use of a firearm).

Research Methods Overview: The project team plans to conduct a cross-sectional nationally representative survey of adolescent high-school aged youth (age 14-18) and one of their parents using the Gallup Survey Firm. Survey development and IRB completion will be completed at the University of Michigan and by the FACTs pilot team, while sample recruitment, survey administration, and data cleaning will be completed through our subcontract with the Gallup Polling Organization. Following data collection, cleaning, and weighting procedures, data will be transferred to the University of Michigan for analysis. The study team will subsequently be responsible for data analysis and publication.

Future Proposals Developed from the Data: Drs. Carter and Zimmerman plan to utilize data from the National Survey Project to develop a future proposal for a longitudinal study of firearm behaviors among adolescent youth and will engage Co-Investigators as appropriate to their interest/expertise. In addition, as part of this proposal, Drs. Carter and Zimmerman will develop a short-form of the survey that will be available for rapid deployment after a potential mass school shooting to gauge/assess reactions/perceptions regarding the event using a nationally representative sample.

Project Team

Patrick Carter, MD
Marc Zimmerman, PhD
Laura Seewald, MD
Deborah Azrael, PhD, Co-Investigator
David Hemenway, PhD, Co-Investigator
Bernadette Hohl, PhD, Co-Investigator
Matt Miller, MD, MPH, ScD, Co-Investigator
Jesenia Pizarro, PhD, Co-Investigator
Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, MD, MPH, PhD, Co-Investigator
Haley Crimmins, MPH, Project Manager


National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)