Perceived Access to Handguns Among Colorado High School Students

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Perceived Access to Handguns Among Colorado High School Students

Category: Firearm Availability, Youth|Journal: Pediatrics (full text)|Author: A Brooks-Russell, E Kelly, M Betz, M Ma, S Brummett|Year: 2021


Access to firearms among youth can increase the risk of suicide or other injury. In this study, we sought to estimate the population prevalence of adolescent perception of firearm access by demographic, geographic, and other individual health characteristics.



The 2019 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey was an anonymous survey administered to a representative sample of high school students in Colorado. The survey was used to assess health behaviors and risk and protective factors. Analysis was conducted with weights to the state population of public high school students.



In total, 46 537 high school students responded (71% student response rate; 83% school response rate). One in 5 students said it was “sort of easy” (11.1%) or “very easy” (8.8%) to access a handgun, with higher prevalence among male and older-aged youth and differences in racial and/or ethnicity groups. There were geographic differences such that students in schools in more rural areas were more likely to report perceived easy access. Students who had felt sad or hopeless, attempted suicide, or been in a fight were more likely to say they had access to a handgun.



A relatively high proportion of youth have easy access to a firearm, with differences across age, sex, race and/or ethnicity, and geography. This highlights the need for efforts to address ways to reduce firearm access for youth, including secure storage at home, for the prevention of youth firearm suicide and other firearm injuries.

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