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Patterns of gun owner beliefs about firearm risk in relation to firearm storage: a latent class analysis using the 2019 National Firearms Survey
  1. Carmel Salhi1,
  2. Deborah Azrael2,
  3. Matthew Miller1
  1. 1 Department of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2 Health Policy and Management, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Carmel Salhi, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; c.salhi{at}


Background Research on gun owners’ risk-related beliefs has focused on how gun owners answer discrete questions about firearm risk. The current study is the first to use latent class analysis (LCA) to: (A) identify groups of gun owners who share patterns of beliefs about firearm-related risk and (B) examine whether class membership predicts household firearm storage.

Methods We conducted LCA using the 2019 National Firearms Survey, a nationally representative survey of US adult gun-owners (n=2950). The LCA assigned gun owners to classes based on responses to four questions about firearm-related risk. Identified classes were included in logistic regression models predicting firearm storage, along with characteristics linked to storage in past research.

Results Three classes emerged: (1) owners who believe that guns unconditionally make the home safer and should generally be readily accessible (47%); (2) owners who believe that whether guns make homes safer or less safe depends on context (34%); (3) owners who believe that guns do not pose a risk if stored safely (19%). In adjusted models, compared with owners in class 1, those in classes 2 and 3 were less likely to store guns loaded and unlocked (class 2: OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.23 to 0.39; class 3: OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.16 to 0.32).

Conclusion Our LCA is a first step towards better understanding variation in patterns of beliefs among gun owners regarding the risks and benefits of firearms. Our results suggest that messaging aimed at promoting safer firearms storage might benefit from the empirically derived typologies we identify.

  • firearm
  • suicide/self?harm
  • epidemiology

Data availability statement

No data are available. Data for this study are from the 2019 National Firearm Survey.

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Data availability statement

No data are available. Data for this study are from the 2019 National Firearm Survey.

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  • Funding This study was supported by the Joyce Foundation (grant #18–38517) and the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.