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Predicting potential underreporting of firearm ownership in a nationally representative sample



This study utilized demographic and intrapersonal variables to identify individuals who may have falsely denied firearm ownership and determined if individuals can be divided into meaningful subgroups.


Participants were United States residents (N = 3500) recruited from January to June 2020. matched to the 2010 census data for age, race, sex, income, and education level. A Zero-Inflated Negative Binomial (ZINB) regression was utilized to determine potential underreporting of firearm ownership, and a latent class analysis was utilized to determine unique subgroups of those who were identified as underreporting firearm ownership in the ZINB.


Participants (N = 1306) were identified as underreporting firearm ownership (excess zeros) based on a model that included demographic and intrapersonal variables. A latent class analysis indicated that among excess zeros, three unique subgroups exist.


Determining who may be underreporting firearm ownership will allow for a more comprehensive understanding of firearm ownership in the US and more targeted safe storage messages that may reach those who own firearms and are at risk for firearm-related injury and death.

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  1. Our choice of 50% and 75% thresholds was somewhat arbitrary. To address that concern, as conducted another analysis using a 90% threshold. Only 4 excess zeroes were identified using this metric. This result could be due to the variables selected, model fit, our sample, or even a true absence of underreporting. That said, with so few excess zeroes identified, we opted not to include these results in our study.

  2. An additional LCA was conducted on the subsample of potential owners (excess zeros) from the .75 threshold. A three-class solution fit the data best and classes represented those found in the original LCA (with those from the .50 threshold).


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Authors and Affiliations



AEB- Assisted with data analytic plan, writing, and editing. ATK- Assisted with analyses and writing. DWC - Assisted with editing. MDA - Assisted with data analytic plan, writing, and editing

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Allison E. Bond.

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Competing interests

M.D.A. receives personal income from book royalties, speaking fees, and consulting fees related to firearm suicide prevention. He is also a named investigator on several federally funded grants focused on this topic. The A.E.B., A.T.K., and D.W.C. do not have competing interests to disclose.

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Bond, A.E., Karnick, A.T., Capron, D.W. et al. Predicting potential underreporting of firearm ownership in a nationally representative sample. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2023).

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