3 Million Americans Carry a Loaded Gun Daily

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Me holding USP gun” by Nghị Trần is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, MD, MPH, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The impact of firearm carrying on public health and public safety is a topic of considerable interest in the US.  Nonetheless, contemporary national data on some of the most fundamental questions about the scope of firearm carrying among adults in the US do not exist. We used data collected through a nationally representative survey designed by investigators at Harvard University and Northeastern University and conducted in 2015 to understand why, how frequently, or in what manner (i.e., concealed or openly) US adults carry loaded handguns on their person. We also examined the prevalence of handgun carrying among this group by the stringency of state laws regulating concealed carry permits.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: We found that about 9 million adult handgun owners carry their loaded handgun on their person on a monthly basis, and about 3 million of whom do so daily.  Of those who carried, about 82% carried primarily for protection, 79% had a concealed carry permit, 66% always carried concealed, and 11% always carried openly.  Compared with handgun owners who did not carry a loaded handgun, those who carried were younger on average and more likely to be male.  Those who carried were also more likely to self-identify as conservative, live in Southern regions of the United States, have grown up in a firearm-owning household, own both handguns and long guns, and have been threatened with a firearm in the past 5 years.  We also found that proportionally fewer handgun owners carried a concealed loaded handgun if they lived in states with laws that allowed issuing authorities substantial discretion in granting concealed carry permits.  Several handgun owners who did not have a concealed carry permit still carried their handgun concealed even though they lived in states that required a permit.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The effect of increasingly permissive firearm carry laws on firearm carrying behavior should be studied.  It is also important to investigate to what extent illegal firearm carrying behavior continues among those who were denied a permit. A better understanding of firearm carrying (both concealed and open) among adults and its relationship with the state laws can inform future policy and practice related to public health and public safety.

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AJPH Published Online: October 19, 2017

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.


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Last Updated on October 20, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD