Informing Federal Policy on Firearm Restrictions for Veterans with Fiduciaries: Risk Indicators in the Post-Deployment Mental Health Study

  • Jeffrey SwansonEmail author
  • Michele Easter
  • Mira Brancu
  • VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC Workgroup
  • John A. Fairbank
Original Article


This article examines the public safety rationale for a federal policy of prohibiting gun sales to veterans with psychiatric disabilities who are assigned a fiduciary to manage their benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The policy was evaluated using data on 3200 post-deployment veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan war era. Three proxy measures of fiduciary need—based on intellectual disability, drug abuse, or acute psychopathology—were associated in bivariate analysis with interpersonal violence and suicidality. In multivariate analysis, statistical significance remained only for the measure based on acute psychopathology. Implications for reforms to the fiduciary firearm restriction policy are discussed.


Veterans Mental Illness Suicide Gun violence Fiduciary 



The research was funded by the VISN 6 Mid-Atlantic MIRECC and the Elizabeth K. Dollard Charitable Trust. The project was supported by the VA Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (VISN 6 MIRECC) of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Mental Health Services and Suicide Prevention and the VA Mid-Atlantic Healthcare Network (VISN 6). The Mid-Atlantic MIRECC Workgroup contributors for this article include: Jean C. Beckham, PhD, Patrick S. Calhoun, PhD, Eric Dedert, PhD, Eric B. Elbogen, PhD, Robin A. Hurley, MD, Jason D. Kilts, PhD, Nathan A. Kimbrel, PhD, Angela Kirby, MS, Christine E. Marx, MD, MS, Gregory McCarthy, PhD, Scott D. McDonald, PhD, Scott D. Moore, MD, PhD, Rajendra A. Morey, MD, MS, Jennifer C. Naylor, PhD, Treven C. Pickett, PsyD, Jared A. Rowland, PhD, Cindy Swinkels, PhD, Steven T. Szabo, MD, PhD, Katherine H. Taber, PhD., Larry A. Tupler, PhD, Elizabeth E. Van Voorhees, PhD, H. Ryan Wagner, Ph.D., Richard D. Weiner, MD, PhD, and Ruth E. Yoash-Gantz, PsyD. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, or the US government. Dedert is funded by a Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Science Research and Development Career Development Award. (IK2CX000718.) Kimbrel is funded by a Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Science Research and Development Career Development Award (IK2CX000525). McDonald completed funding by a Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Career Development Award (1IK2RX000703-01). Naylor is funded by a Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Career Development Award (1lK2RX000908). Van Voorhees is funded by a Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Career Development Award (1K2RX001298). The authors gratefully acknowledge the able assistance of Paola Fernandez and the helpful critical review of an earlier draft by Wendy Tenhula, Ph.D. and Stacey Pollack, Ph.D.


This study was funded by the VISN 6 Mid-Atlantic MIRECC and the Elizabeth K. Dollard Charitable Trust.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the Post-Deployment Mental Health study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey Swanson
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Michele Easter
    • 1
  • Mira Brancu
    • 1
    • 2
  • VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC Workgroup
    • 2
  • John A. Fairbank
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University School of MedicineDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness ResearchEducation, and Clinical Center (VISN 6 MIRECC)DurhamUSA

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