Harvard Study Finds Anger Issues, Not Major Mental Illness, Tied To Gun Violence

Nearly one in 10 U.S. adults have both a history of impulsive anger and access to a firearm, according to a new study by researchers from Duke, Harvard and Columbia universities. The researchers also found that 1.5 percent of adults with impulsive anger issues carry a gun.

The study, published in Behavioral Sciences and the Law this month, analyzed data from 5,563 face-to-face and household interviews that were part of the National Comorbidity Study Replication, a Harvard-led survey conducted in the early 2000s. The survey assessed respondents’ mental health, including several questions about whether or not they had patterns of impulsive anger, how many guns they owned and whether or not they carried guns outside of the home (respondents who were headed to a target range or who carried a gun as part of their job were excluded).

One of the most significant findings was the three-way association between individuals who owned multiple guns, carried a gun outside of the home and expressed a pattern of angry, impulsive behavior. Study participants who owned six or more guns were found to be four times more likely to carry guns outside of the home and to be in the high-risk anger group than participants who owned one firearm.

Participants who were considered to have a high risk for impulsive anger responded affirmatively to some or all of the following questions: “I have tantrums or angry outbursts;” “Sometimes I get so angry I break or smash things;” and “I lose my temper and get into physical fights.”

Married men under the age of 30 who live in outlying areas around cities were more likely than other demographics to show a pattern of spontaneous anger while simultaneously having access to guns. There were also significant regional differences in gun ownership rates among respondents. Respondents —> Read More