1 in 10 Americans Have Anger Issues and a Gun

As many as 1 in 10 Americans have impulsive anger problems and access to a gun.

As many as 1 in 10 Americans have impulsive anger problems and access to a gun.

A recent study published in Behavioral Sciences & the Law examined the National Comorbidity Study Replication to find national estimates of individuals who possess or carry a gun and also exhibit impulsive anger. Using the data, which was gathered via 5563 face-to-face interviews, the researchers found 8.9% of the sample had potential anger problems and stored a firearm at their residence, and 1.5% of those with impulsive anger carried a gun outside the home.

Few individuals in this co-occurring population have been involuntarily hospitalized for a mental health problem, meaning many of them are legally allowed to buy firearms, the researchers noted. Involuntary commitment to a hospital would have restricted them from accessing a gun.

“As we try to balance constitutional rights and public safety regarding people with mental illness, the traditional legal approach has been to prohibit firearms from involuntarily-committed psychiatric patients,” said lead study author Jeffrey Swanson, PhD, professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke Medicine, in a press release. “But now we have more evidence that current laws don't necessarily keep firearms out of the hands of a lot of potentially dangerous individuals.”

One suggestion the researchers provided was expanding the definition of who should not be allowed to buy a gun. For example, restricting individuals with violent misdemeanors and multiple DUI convictions could help prevent gun violence.

The researchers also found individuals with guns and anger issues were at an elevated risk of personality disorders, alcohol abuse, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.