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December 1995

Children's and Women's Ability to Fire Handguns

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Children's Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University, Chicago, Ill (Drs S. M. Naureckas and Kaufer Christoffel, Ms Galanter, and Mr Donavan); and the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Chicago (Dr E. T. Naureckas).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(12):1318-1322. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170250024003

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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