Positive and negative affective processes associated with firearm acquisition and ownership

In a sample of 6,200 Americans matched to Census demographic data, we examined differences in positive and negative emotions. Individuals who reported owning firearms primarily for protection reported higher average levels of both positive and negative emotions than did other firearm owners and non-firearm owners. Those intending to acquire a firearm in the coming 12 months also reported elevated levels of both positive and negative emotions. Among firearm owners who own primarily for protection and who reported intending to acquire a firearm in the coming 12 months, positive and negative emotions were positively correlated with one another, whereas in all other groups, these variables were unrelated or inversely related to one another. We conclude that cognitive, and affective processes may be disrupted among this particular subgroup of firearm owners. This could mean that such individuals are more prone to feeling anxious and that they acquire firearms to decrease those feelings, resulting in a surge of positive emotions that reinforces firearm acquisition as a powerful way to address feelings of anxiety.

Project Status

Principal Investigator (PI): Craig Bryan; Mike Anestis; AnnaBelle Bryan.