Charles Jennissen Live-stream

Rural Youth and Firearms: A Survey of Iowa FFA Members  

Charles Jennissen, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Iowa

Charles Jennissen, MD, is a pediatric emergency medicine physician and a Clinical Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Dr. Jennissen grew up on a dairy farm in central Minnesota.  This plays a large part in his interest in safety and injury prevention, particularly regarding children and teens, and those who work and live on farms.  Most of his research projects have addressed injury-related issues, especially those involving off-road vehicles.  He has been an advisory board member of I-CASH (Iowa Center for Agricultural Safety and Health) for 20 years.

Learning Objective:  Participants will be able to summarize the storage practices of firearms in the homes of Iowa FFA members, and of rural adolescents’ personal experience with firearm-related death and injury and the attitudes they have about firearms.


The suicide rate is highest in rural areas and has increased in children and teens by 65% in the past decade. Over 80% of youth firearm suicides involve a gun belonging to a family member. In addition, the majority of firearm-related hospitalizations in youth are unintentional injuries. Safe firearm storage can be a major factor in preventing these tragedies. Few studies have examined rural children’s exposure to firearms despite their frequent presence in homes. Moreover, in the shadow of recent firearm shootings in schools and other public places and the rise in teen suicides, youth have become leading voices raising concerns about the firearm-related death and injury epidemic. Although public polls frequently ask adults their opinions regarding firearms and policies, few studies have queried adolescents. During this presentation, we will explore these issues in relationship to a survey study of 1,382 youth that attended the 2019 Iowa FFA Leadership Conference. Adolescents were asked about firearm storage practices in their homes, their use of rifles/shotguns and handguns including when they first used a firearm, whether they had taken a firearm safety course and how old they were when trained, their personal experience with firearm-related death and injury, and the attitudes they have about firearms.


Charles Jennissen’s presentation begins at timestamp 1:02:18