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Children's and Women's Ability to Fire Handguns

Sara M. Naureckas, MD; Cathryn Galanter; Edward T. Naureckas, MD; Mark Donovan, MS; Katherine Kaufer Christoffel, MD, MPH
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(12):1318-1322. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170250024003.
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Objectives:  To evaluate whether strength differences between children and women might keep children from firing handguns and to determine how many young children can fire available handguns.

Design:  One- and two-index finger trigger-pull strength was tested using a standard protocol. Data on trigger-pull settings of 64 commercially available handguns were obtained.

Setting and Participants:  Convenience sample of well children and their mothers at four Chicago (Ill)-area pediatric practices for health supervision visits, and of siblings of emergency department patients, during an 8-week period.

Interventions:  None.

Main Outcome Measure:  One- and two-index finger trigger-pull strength of mothers and children.

Results:  Twenty-five percent of 3- to 4-year-olds, 70% of 5- to 6-year-olds, and 90% of 7- to 8-year-olds have a two-finger trigger-pull strength of at least 10 lb, the fifth percentile one-finger trigger-pull strength of adult women. Forty (62.5%) of 64 handguns require trigger-pull strength of less than 5 lb; 19 (30%) of 64 require 5 to 10 lb.

Conclusions:  Significant overlap exists in the trigger-pull strength of young children and women, limiting the potential use of increased trigger-pull settings to discourage firearm discharge by children. Young children are strong enough to fire many handguns now in circulation.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:1318-1322)

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