Young guns: How low does it go?

GVPedia Study Database

Young guns: How low does it go?

Category: Firearm Availability, Gun Markets, Youth|Journal: Internal Medicine Review|Author: J Bolland, L Post, R Spano|Year: 2019


To specify the impact of first time gun carrying, by age, on violent behavior and gang membership in urban high risk youth.


A prospective longitudinal cohort study was conducted in Mobile, Alabama. This study compares first time gun carrying for adolescents, ages (ages 9 to 18).


The findings indicate that: (1) there are no differences in violence or gang membership for first time gun carriers regardless of age; (2) 28% of first time gun carriers were “early onset” (age 9 to 11) or young guns; and (3) first time gun carrying, regardless of age, corresponded with a dramatic spike in violent behavior and gang membership.


Delaying age of onset for first time gun carrying may reduce overall gun violence. A secondary benefit of delaying/preventing children carrying guns is a reduction in serious violent behavior and gang membership. As a result, policy should include younger adolescents, as young as nine years, to reduce gun violence because waiting until the teen or adult years will miss a significant portion of the population of gun carriers. Existing efforts focus on preventing adolescent access to guns, whereas they should be expanded to include gun carrying.

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