Firearm Use in Violent Crime: Examining the Role of Premeditation and Motivation in Weapon Choice

Jesenia M. Pizarro, Kristen M. Zgoba, Karissa R. Pelletier

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Scopus citations


    Although there is a plethora of research documenting the relationship between firearms and violence, we know little about the influence of offenders’ motivation and premeditation as they relate to the choice of weapon for the commission of a violent crime. In this study, we examined a sample of 375 violent crime inmates incarcerated in the New Jersey Department of Corrections. We addressed two research questions: what variables influence the use of a firearm in a violent crime, and do premeditation and motivation increase the odds that an offender will use a firearm in a violent crime? We found that premeditation and motivation are robust covariates of firearm use, which aligns with Rational Choice Theory; this suggests that firearms are used as tools to gain compliance and facilitate the commission of a crime. As a result, prevention strategies that focus on restricting access to firearms to at-risk populations and those that focus on interrupting the cycle of violence may help reduce firearm-related violence, particularly in premeditated events.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)77-91
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Primary Prevention
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Feb 2021


    • Firearms
    • Rational choice
    • Violence
    • Weapon selection

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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