Objectives: To estimate the national prevalence of youth access to alcohol, a gun, or both alcohol and a gun, in their home and to describe the demographic characteristics associated with access to either alcohol or a gun.
Methods: Cross sectional data from the 1995 in-home survey of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which used a nationally representative randomly selected school based sample (n=18 924) of adolescents in grades 7-12, were analyzed. The current analyses were restricted to those adolescents 12-18 years of age (n=18 454). Crude logistic regression analyses was used to determine the demographic characteristics associated with access to alcohol or a gun in the home.
Results: Overall, 28.7% of US adolescents reported having easy access to alcohol in the home. Availability of alcohol was associated with race/ethnicity, mother's education, family structure, and welfare status. Similarly, 24.3% of US adolescents reported easy access to a gun in the home. Availability of a gun in the home was associated with gender, race/ethnicity, mother's education, family structure, and welfare status. Among those that reported that a gun was available in their home, most reported availability of a shotgun (63.0%) followed by a rifle (61.3%), handgun (57.3%), and other gun (16.4%). Ten per cent of adolescents reported availability of both alcohol and a gun in their home.
Conclusions: One quarter of US adolescents reported easy access to either alcohol or a gun in their home. Given the risks associated with the misuse of alcohol and guns among adolescents, efforts to increase public awareness of the availability of alcohol and guns in the home are needed.