Applying Behavioral Economics to Enhance Safe Firearm Storage

A paper written by Katelin Hoskins, Unmesha Paladhi, Caitlin McDonald, and Alison Buttenheim was recently released in Pediatrics, titled Applying Behavioral Economics to Enhance Safe Firearm Storage. Hoskins et al. believe behavioral economic insights which apply key principles from psychology and economics to address obstacles to behavior change, can contribute to preventing pediatric firearm-related deaths and injury.

This article applies behavioral economic theory to identify specific cognitive biases that may influence parental decision-making around firearm storage. Hoskins et al. illustrate situations in which these biases may occur and highlight implementation prompts, in-group messengers, and increased salience as behaviorally informed strategies that may counter these biases and subsequently enhance safe firearm storage. They also describe other opportunities to leverage the behavioral economic tool kit. By better understanding the individual behavioral levers that may impact decision-making around firearm storage, behavioral scientists, pediatric providers, and public health practitioners can partner to design and test tailored interventions aimed at decreasing pediatric firearm injuries.

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