Adolescent Handgun Carriage Increasing in the United States

Adolescent handgun carriage is increasing, especially among rural, White, and higher-income adolescents.

HealthDay News — Adolescent handgun carriage is increasing, especially among rural, White, and higher-income adolescents, according to a study published online April 26 in Pediatrics.

Naoka Carey, J.D., and Rebekah Levine Coley, Ph.D., from the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College, used data from the National Survey on Drug Use & Health conducted annually from 2002 to 2019 to explore the changing prevalence of adolescent handgun carriage. The sample included 297,055 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years.

The researchers observed a significant increase in handgun carriage, especially among rural, White, and higher-income adolescents. Over cohorts, carriage increased by 41 percent, with an increase in predicted prevalence rates from 3.3 to 4.6 percent in 2002-2006 to 2015-2019. Across cohorts, carriage was most likely to be reported among rural, American Indian/Alaskan Native, lower-income (<$20,000), male, and older (16 to 17 years) adolescents (5.1, 5.2, 3.9, 5.9, and 4.5 percent, respectively). Over time, these patterns changed significantly; in the most recent cohorts, White and higher-income adolescents (>$75,000) were more likely to carry. Between the 2002-2006 and 2015-2019 cohorts, predicted carriage rates increased from 3.1 to 5.3 percent among Whites, from 2.6 to 5.1 percent among higher-income adolescents, and from 4.3 to 6.9 percent among rural adolescents.

“Our findings underscore the need to develop intervention programs and policy solutions that are tailored to different subgroups of adolescents and which address underlying structural and sociocultural, as well as family and individual, determinants of carriage,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text