Firearms and cultural competence: considerations for mental health professionals

Gianni Pirelli (Verona, New Jersey, USA)
Philip Witt (Associates in Psychological Services, Somerville, New Jersey, USA)

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

ISSN: 1759-6599

Publication date: 8 January 2018



Although cultural competence is gaining increased attention among mental health practitioners, such primarily has centered on race, religion, ethnicity, language, and nationality. Thus far, there has been relatively little recognition of specific socialized subcultures aside from the aforementioned groups, and virtually no discussion regarding those associated with various firearm-related subcultures. This topic is particularly relevant to mental health practitioners, as positions on firearm use and ownership frequently split across political party lines, and mental health professionals and academics are more likely to espouse liberal rather than conservative views. It follows that practitioners may understand little about firearms culture and, therefore, are at increased risk for biased decision making when working with clients for whom firearms have relevance. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


This paper takes a conceptual approach to reviewing potential areas of bias in both clinical and clinical-forensic practice in the US context.


The authors detail the prevalence of firearm-related issues in the USA, contextualize firearm-related issues in forensic treatment and evaluation scenarios, delineate a number of firearm subgroups, and recommend considerations for mental health professionals to develop cultural competence as it relates to firearms and associated subcultures.


This is an original conceptual study of cultural competence and various firearm-related subcultures.



Pirelli, G. and Witt, P. (2018), "Firearms and cultural competence: considerations for mental health professionals", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 61-70.

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