Childhood gun access, adult suicidality, and crime

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Childhood gun access, adult suicidality, and crime

Category: Crime, Firearm Availability, Suicide|Journal: Pediatrics|Author: E Gifford, G Tong, J Swanson, L Shanahan, M Easter, M Swartz, W Copeland|Year: 2021

Objectives

To test the associations of childhood domestic gun access with adult criminality and suicidality.

 

Methods

Analyses were based on a 20+ year prospective, community-representative study of 1420 children, who were assessed up to 8 times during childhood (ages 9–16; 6674 observations) about access to guns in their home. Participants were then followed-up 4 additional times in adulthood (ages 19, 21, 25, and 30; 4556 observations of 1336 participants) about criminality and suicidality.

 

Results

During childhood, the 3-month prevalence of having a gun in the home was 55.1% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 52.1%–58.7%). Of the children in homes with guns, 63.3% (95% CI: 59.7%–66.9%) had access to a gun, and 25.0% (95% CI: 21.2%–28.8%) owned a gun themselves. Having gun access as a child was associated with higher levels of adult criminality (odds ratios = 1.1–3.5) and suicidality (odds ratios = 2.9–4.4), even after adjusting for childhood correlates of gun access. Risk of adult criminality and suicidality among those with childhood gun access was greatest in male individuals, those living in urban areas, and children with a history of behavior problems. Even in these groups, however, most children did not display adult criminality or suicidality.

 

Conclusions

Childhood gun access is prospectively associated with later adult criminality and suicidality in specific groups of children.

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