Study: Number of Teens Carrying Handguns Spikes

Study: Number of Teens Carrying Handguns Spikes Study: Number of Teens Carrying Handguns Spikes (Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images)

By Jack Gournell | Tuesday, 26 April 2022 05:07 PM

The number of American teenagers carrying handguns has risen sharply over the past two decades, especially among white, rural and higher income adolescents, according to a new study.

The researchers at Boston College found that gun carriage rates decreased among Black, American Indian and Alaskan Native, and lower income adolescents.

The just-released study conducted by Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development compared teen handgun carrying rates from 2002 to 2019 and is reported in the latest edition of the journal Pediatrics.

A 41% overall increase was found among all teens, with white and higher income youth the most likely to report carrying handguns, according to the survey, which took its data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use & Health of adolescents ages 12-17 between the years 2002 and 2019.

According to federal estimates based on the survey, 200,000 more teens would be reporting they have carried a firearm in 2020 compared to 2002-03.

"While earlier handgun carriage research primarily focused on individual level risk factors, more recent inquiries on bearing and exposure to firearm violence have drawn attention to the importance of socio-demographic differences in carriage patterns, particularly those linked to differences in neighborhood or historical contexts, and place-based norms around bearing firearms," the study’s authors said in a press release on the study.

"For example, U.S. southern and midwestern demographic groups tend to embrace more positive norms around gun carriage, and firearm bearing by adolescents is linked to peer and family customs around carriage," they said.

The researchers say the findings call for intervention programs and policy solutions specific to each group

"Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for children in the U.S. and it is absolutely critical that we address it,” said Naoka Carey, a Ph.D. candidate who conducted the study with Rebekah Levine Coley, Ph.D.. Carey is also a member of the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice and Policy Board and the former executive director of Massachusetts-based Citizens for Juvenile Justice.

"To do that, policy needs to be informed by what teenagers are reporting they do today, not what they were doing 20 years ago or class- or race-based assumptions about which kids carry. We hope that our study can help inform future research, and help policymakers better address the root causes of violence and childhood injury, which may look different for different communities."

Original Article