Law Enforcement and Gun Retailers as Partners for Safely Storing Guns to Prevent Suicide: A Study in 8 Mountain West States

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Abstract

Objectives

To examine the extent to which law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and gun retailers are willing to offer voluntary, temporary storage as a part of an overall suicide prevention effort.

Methods

We invited all LEAs and gun retailers in 8 US states to respond to questionnaires asking about their willingness to offer temporary gun storage and their recommendations to gun owners about safe storage.

Results

We collected data in 2016 from 448 LEAs and 95 retailers (response rates of 53% and 25%, respectively). Three quarters of LEAs (74.8%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 72.1, 77.5) indicated they already provided temporary storage compared with 47.6% (95% CI = 39.2, 56.0) of retailers. LEAs were most willing to provide storage when a gun owner was concerned about the mental health of a family member. Retailers were more receptive than were LEAs to providing storage when visitors were coming or for people wanting storage while traveling. Both groups recommended locking devices within the home, but LEAs were slightly more favorable to storing guns away from the home.

Conclusions

Law enforcement agencies and gun retailers are important resources for families concerned about suicide.

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