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Law enforcement and firearms: understanding firearm ownership and storage habits
  1. Allison E Bond1,2,
  2. Ian Stanley3,
  3. Shelby L Bandel2,4,
  4. Michael Anestis2
  1. 1 Psychology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA
  2. 2 New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
  3. 3 Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA
  4. 4 Department of Psychology, The State University of NJ, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA
  1. Correspondence to Allison E Bond, Psychology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA; ab2242{at}


Objective This study seeks to better understand firearm ownership among law enforcement officers (LEO), with the goal of informing future firearm injury and suicide prevention efforts. We describe the frequency and sociodemographic correlates of firearm ownership and storage practices among, and examine the association between suicidal ideation and current firearm storage practices.

Methods The present study used data from a large online study (n=6410) and included data from individuals who were currently or previously being employed as an LEO (n=369; M (SD) age=39.2 y (15.8 y), 75.2% male, 66.7% white). Self-report measures were used to assess for firearm ownership, storage habits and suicidal ideation. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the frequency of firearm ownership and logistic regressions were used to examine the extent to which demographic characteristics and suicidal ideation were associated with firearm ownership.

Results Overall, 70.5% (n=261) of the sample reported firearm ownership. LEO who were older had significantly lower odds of reporting firearm ownership. Those who were married and those who reported lifetime suicidal ideation had significantly greater odds of reporting firearm ownership. Whereas firearm-owning LEO who reporting storing a firearm locked had significantly lower odds of reporting lifetime suicidal ideation, those who reported storing a firearm unloaded had significantly greater odds of reporting lifetime suicidal ideation.

Conclusion Findings have important public health implications and can be used to increase adherence with secure storage recommendations. Increasing secure storage may help reduce suicide risk among LEO, a sample at heightened risk for suicide.

  • Firearm
  • Suicide/Self?Harm
  • Cross Sectional Study

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Not Applicable.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Not Applicable.

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  • Contributors AEB and IS: design, writing and editing. SLB: writing. MA: data collection, design and editing. AEB: Guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests Author MA receives personal income in the form of book royalties, speaking fees, honoraria and consulting fees related to firearm suicide prevention. He also serves as the PI or Co-I on several grants focused on firearm suicide prevention.

  • 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.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.