Law Enforcement Agencies' Perceptions of the Benefits of and Barriers to Temporary Firearm Storage to Prevent Suicide

Am J Public Health. 2019 Feb;109(2):285-288. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304802. Epub 2018 Dec 20.


Objectives: To examine the perceived benefits of and barriers to law enforcement agencies providing increased access to voluntary and temporary firearm storage.

Methods: We surveyed 448 police chiefs and sheriffs in 8 US Mountain West states about firearm storage practices, benefits of and barriers to storage, and related attitudes and beliefs. Data collection occurred during the spring and summer of 2016.

Results: Nearly three quarters of agencies reported that they are already providing storage and perceive relatively few barriers in doing so. Agency characteristics were not associated with current provision of firearm storage. Among the barriers identified included state laws, limited space, training needs, and community perceptions. Benefits of storage included being perceived positively by the community and supporting health care workers.

Conclusions: Engaging with law enforcement agencies in suicide prevention efforts and addressing their perceived barriers to providing temporary firearm storage have promise as part of a comprehensive suicide prevention approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Firearms / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Law Enforcement
  • Northwestern United States
  • Police* / psychology
  • Police* / statistics & numerical data
  • Southwestern United States
  • Suicide Prevention*