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Lethal Means Counseling, Cable Locks Promote Safe Firearm Storage

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13, 2021 -- Lethal means counseling and provision of cable locks result in greater adoption of safe storage methods for firearms, according to a study published online Dec. 22 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Michael D. Anestis, Ph.D., from the School of Public Health at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial using a 2 x 2 factorial design (lethal means counseling versus control; provision of cable locks versus no cable locks) for 232 firearm-owning members of the Mississippi National Guard. Participants underwent follow-up assessments at three and six months after baseline.

The researchers found that lethal means counseling and provision of cable locks resulted in greater adoption of several safe storage methods over time relative to controls. At six months, lethal means counseling outperformed control for use of a locking device (55 versus 39 percent; odds ratio, 1.91). At three and six months, cable locks outperformed control on number of storage methods (1.41 versus 1.11 [d = 0.29] and 1.34 versus 1.16 [d = 0.15], respectively) and locking devices (59.8 versus 29.9 percent [odds ratio, 3.49] and 58.4 versus 35.8 percent [odds ratio, 2.52], respectively).

"Given the frequency with which firearms are used in military suicides, promoting safe firearm storage may represent an invaluable tool for military suicide prevention," the authors write. "These results suggest that lethal means counseling and cable lock distribution could positively address this issue, even among firearm-owning service members not seeking out either intervention."

One author disclosed receiving income from book royalties and speaking and consulting fees related to firearms and suicides; a second author receives personal income from training on lethal means counseling.

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Posted: January 2021

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