An estimated one in three American homes with children have guns in them, and about 1.7 million children are living in the presence of a loaded, unlocked gun. Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that every week in America, one child under 12 years old dies from an unintentional gunshot, the majority of which happen at home. And this year alone, children have unintentionally shot either themselves or someone else at least 210 times.
While access to unsecured, loaded firearms is certainly to blame for these incidents, new research finds that gun violence in popular culture may also play a role in stoking curiosity about guns in the first place.
In a unique and vivid experiment, researchers from The Ohio State University found that children who recently watched gun violence in movies were almost three times more likely to pull the trigger of a (disabled) gun placed in their vicinity compared to children who watched the same movie, but with the gun violence edited out. Children exposed to gun violence in movies also held the gun for longer than kids who watched the edited movie (53 seconds, on average, versus 11 seconds).