Risky Lifestyles and Unintentional Firearms Fatalities

  • Rick Ruddell California State University, Chico
  • G. Larry Mays New Mexico State University


This state-level study departs from other investigations of unintentional firearms fatalities by examining the relationships between lifestyle choices, legislation, and accidental gun deaths. We find that the source of these deaths is very similar to those for unintentional fatalities from other mechanisms, such as motor vehicle accidents, residential fires, or occupational injuries. Unintentional mortality is consistently associated with state-level indicators of risky behavior, and to a lesser extent, inactivity. Moreover, we also examined the influences of child access prevention (safe storage), overall firearms laws, and background checks on firearms fatalities. Unlike previous research, we found that these legislative initiatives were not significantly associated with reductions in accidental shooting deaths. Our findings suggest that theories about unintentional fatalities will remain incomplete and harm reduction policies, including the public health model endorsed by many scholars, will not be fully effective if the role of risktaking and sensation-seeking behaviors as an important source of these tragedies is neglected.

How to Cite
Ruddell, R., & Mays, G. L. (2004). Risky Lifestyles and Unintentional Firearms Fatalities. Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 2(4), 49-64. https://doi.org/10.32398/cjhp.v2i4.896

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