Date of Award

Summer 8-2021

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Daniel Capron, PhD

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Randolph Arnau, PhD

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Michael Anestis, PhD

Committee Member 4

Evan Kleiman, PhD


Objective: The present study sought to identify and verify unique classes of firearm owners that exist within the United States (US) and to determine the sources that each class deemed credible to discuss safe firearm storage for suicide prevention. Methods: The study is composed of three parts, each with its own unique sample. Part 1 (N = 1,018) utilizes a nationally representative sample of firearm owners. Part 2 (N = 1,064) consists of firearm owners from Mississippi, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Lastly, Part 3 examined the samples from Mississippi (n = 308), Minnesota (n = 379), and New Jersey (n = 378) separately.

Results: Four unique classes of firearm owners were identified in Sample 1 and replicated in Sample 2: the multiple firearms class, single handgun class, few firearms class, and long-gun class. The multiple firearms class and handgun class replicated in the Mississippi, Minnesota, and New Jersey samples. The few firearms class replicated in the Mississippi sample, and the long-gun class replicated in the Minnesota sample. The classes differed on several indicator variables, and additional differences were examined between the classes. Although many of the classes differed in the ranking of credible sources, a combination of The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, law enforcement officers, family members, physicians, and veterans were ranked as the top three most credible sources among all classes.

Conclusions: The present study provides evidence of the heterogenous nature of firearm owners in the US. Findings from this study can be utilized to better understand the subgroups of firearm owners and their unique preferences and habits. Additionally, the findings from the credible sources analyses can be leveraged to create more effective safe firearm storage messaging. Creating more effective and personalized messaging on firearm safety for suicide prevention may increase adherence with safe storage suggestions and ultimately reduce suicide rates.