Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Handgun Carrying among White Youth Increasing in the United States: New Evidence from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2002-2013

The objective of the present study was to examine trends and correlates of handgun carrying among adolescents ages 12-17 in the United States. Data was derived from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) involving non-Hispanic white, African American, and Hispanic respondents ages 12-17 (n = 197,313) and spanning the years 2002-2013. Logistic regression was used to examine significance of trend year and correlates of previous 12-month handgun carrying. The overall self-reported prevalence of handgun carrying was 3.4%. 

The prevalence of handgun carrying during 2004-2005 was significantly higher for African-Americans (4.39%) compared to non-Hispanic whites (3.03%). However, by 2012-2013, non-Hispanic whites (4.08%) completely diverged and reported carrying handguns significantly more than both African-American (2.96%) and Hispanic (2.82%) youth. 

Male gender and a number of externalizing behaviors were significant correlates of handgun carrying; however, we also found evidence of differential correlates with regard to such factors as drug selling, parental affirmation, and income by race/ethnicity. 

To our knowledge, this is the largest study of handgun carrying among youth in the United States. Findings indicate that although at historically low levels handgun carrying is on the rise but only among non-Hispanic Whites. 

Differential correlates among racial/ethnic groups suggest prevention programming and policies may need modifications depending on group and geographic locale targeted.

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  • 1School of Social Work, College for Public Health and Social Justice, Saint Louis University, Tegeler Hall, 3550 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63103, United States. Electronic address:
  • 2Department of Epidemiology, College for Public Health and Social Justice, Saint Louis University, 3545 Lafayette Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63104, United States. Electronic address:
  • 3School of Social Work, The University of Texas at Austin, 1925 San Jacinto Blvd D3500, Austin, TX 78712-0358, United States. Electronic address:
  • 4Criminal Justice Studies, Iowa State University, 203A East Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070, United States. Electronic address:
  • 5Department of Epidemiology, Saint Louis University, Salus Center 473, St. Louis, MO 63104, United States. Electronic address: 
  •  2016 Apr 7. pii: S0091-7435(16)30048-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.03.024

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