Firearm ownership among young adults: Associations with impulsivity and impulse control disorders

BACKGROUND: Firearm ownership is extremely common in parts of the United States. Yet little research has examined whether it is associated with impulsive symptoms and traits.

METHODS: Adults age 18 to 29 who gamble at least occasionally were recruited in 2 cities in the United States using media advertisements for an exploratory study examining general mental health, impulse control disorders, impulsive personality, and aspects of cognition (decision-making, response inhibition, and flexible responding). The participants were grouped as firearm owners and non-firearm owners; these 2 groups were compared on the above measures.

RESULTS: For this study, 149 young adults took part, of whom 33 (22.1%) endorsed owning ≥1 firearm. Firearm ownership was significantly associated with male gender and elevated risk of gambling disorder, but not with other measures of impulsivity.

CONCLUSIONS: The link between firearm ownership and disordered gambling merits further research and may have policy implications, such as in terms of screening for guns in gambling arenas, including casinos. Further research is needed to explore potential associations between gun ownership and impulsivity in cohorts with other demographic characteristics, including longitudinally.

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