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Inj Epidemiol. 2017 Dec 19;4(1):33. doi: 10.1186/s40621-017-0130-y.

Firearm ownership among American veterans: findings from the 2015 National Firearm Survey.

Author information

Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital Massachusetts General Hospital, 5 Emerson Place, Suite 101, Boston, MA, 02114, USA.
Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center, Veterans Health Administration, Denver, CO, USA.
Northeastern University, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Boston, MA, USA.



While the majority of veteran suicides involve firearms, no contemporary data describing firearm ownership among US veterans are available. This study uses survey data to describe the prevalence of firearm ownership among a nationally representative sample of veterans, as well as veterans' reasons for firearm ownership.


A cross-sectional, nationally representative web-based survey conducted in 2015.


Nearly half of all veterans own one or more firearms (44.9%, 95% CI 41.3-48.6%), with male veterans more commonly owning firearms than do female veterans (47.2%, 95% CI 43.4-51.0% versus 24.4%, 95%CI 15.6-36.1%). Most veteran firearm owners own both handguns and long guns (56.5%, 95% CI 51.1-61.8%); a majority cite protection as a primary reason for firearm ownership (63.1%, 95% CI 58.2-67.8%).


The current study is the first to provide detailed, nationally representative information about firearm ownership among U.S. veterans. Better understanding firearm ownership among veterans can usefully inform ongoing suicide prevention efforts aiming to facilitate lethal means safety among vulnerable veterans during at-risk periods.

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