The Role of Reason for Firearm Ownership In Beliefs About Firearms and Suicide, Openness to Means Safety, and Current Firearm Storage

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Objective: Firearm means safety strategies, such as safe storage, are effective in reducing suicide rates but are not widely implemented in the United States. This study examined the association between reason for firearm ownership, beliefs about firearm ownership and storage and suicide risk, willingness to engage in means safety, and current firearm storage practices.

Method: A sample of 300 American firearm owners (53.0% male; 82.3% White; Mage = 36.11, age range = 20–69) completed an online survey via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (mTurk) program.

Results: Firearm owners who own a firearm for protection, compared to owning a firearm for other reasons, (1) endorsed decreased belief in the relationship between firearm ownership and storage and suicide risk, (2) were less willing to engage in the means safety measures of storing firearms safely and allowing a trusted individual to temporarily remove firearms from the home, and (3) were more likely to store their firearms loaded.

Conclusions: Reason for firearm ownership influences views regarding firearms and suicide, willingness to engage in firearm means safety, and firearm storage practices. It is essential to understand how differences in reason for firearm ownership impact these outcomes so appropriate, efficacious messaging can be developed and implemented.

Publication Title

Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior

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