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Law enforcement and firearms: understanding firearm ownership and storage habits


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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