Unintentional firearm injury (UFI) remains a significant problem in the USA with respect to preventable injury and death. The antecedent, behaviour and consequence (ABC) taxonomy has been used by law enforcement agencies to evaluate unintentional firearm discharge. Using an adapted ABC taxonomy, we sought to categorise civilian UFI in our community to identify modifiable behaviours.
Using a collaborative firearm injury database (containing both a university-based level 1 trauma registry and a metropolitan law enforcement database), all UFIs from August 2008 through December 2021 were identified. Perceived threat (antecedent), behaviour and injured party (consequence) were identified for each incident.
During the study period, 937 incidents of UFI were identified with 64.2% of incidents occurring during routine firearm tasks. 30.4% of UFI occurred during neglectful firearm behaviour such as inappropriate storage. Most injuries occurred under situations of low perceived threat. UFI involving children was most often due to inappropriate storage of weapons, while cleaning a firearm was the most common behaviour in adults. Overall, 16.5% of UFI involved injury to persons other than the one handling the weapon and approximately 1.3% of UFI resulted in mortality.
The majority of UFI occurred during routine and expected firearm tasks such as firearm cleaning. Prevention programmes should not overlook these modifiable behaviours in an effort to reduce UFIs, complications and deaths.