A Loaded Subject: Comparison of Experiences, Knowledge, and Attitudes About Firearms Between a Diverse Male Forensic Psychiatric Sample and a Male Community Sample

Heath J. Hodges, Melanie B. Fessinger, Brian H. Bornstein, Elizabeth C. Low, Rosa Viñas-Racionero, Mario J. Scalora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: High-profile incidents of weapon-involved violence, such as mass shootings, have led to a wave of legislative proposals that often focus on prohibiting individuals with mental illness from obtaining or possessing firearms. Previous literature offers limited insight about the unique experiences, knowledge, and attitudes of individuals with mental illness who are directly affected by evolving firearm regulations. The present study compared firearm experiences, knowledge, and attitudes between male forensic psychiatric patients with variable diagnoses and men in the community. Method: We surveyed 148 male community members (88% White, ages ranging from 21 to 79), via Mechanical Turk, and 57 forensic psychiatric patients (70% White, ages ranging from 19 to 72), in person, about their experiences with, knowledge of, and attitudes toward firearms. Results: Forensic psychiatric patients reported more early experiences with firearms than community members. Forensic psychiatric patients were also more likely to experience victimization. Despite increased experiences with firearms, forensic psychiatric patients had less knowledge about firearms and firearm regulations. They were also less comfortable with firearms and more supportive of government regulation of firearms than community members. Conclusions: Results provide insight into the perspectives of forensic psychiatric patients who are themselves prohibited from owning firearms. Future researchers, treatment providers, and policymakers would benefit from continued exploration of this issue among persons directly affected by firearm prohibitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology of Violence
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Firearm policy
  • Firearm regulation
  • Gun violence
  • Mental illness
  • Prohibited persons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology

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