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Worth the risk? Gun carrying and perceived criminal justice responses in Baltimore


Introduction Policing strategies to deter illegal gun carrying by high-risk people are associated with reductions in gun violence. Many factors influence decisions to use or carry a gun in public, but it is unclear whether perceptions of the criminal justice system’s response influence those decisions.

Methods We used a 2016 cross-sectional survey of criminal justice system-involved men in Baltimore City (n=195) to assess their recent frequency of gun carrying and perceptions of criminal justice system responses.

Results Forty-two per cent of respondents reported carrying a gun at least once; 15% carried a gun at least monthly. Those who carried at least monthly were significantly less likely than others to report that it was likely they would be caught carrying a gun on the street (31% vs 53%).

Conclusions Challenges with holding accountable those who illegally possess or carry guns in public may influence behaviours and perceptions of the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

  • firearm
  • urban
  • behaviour
  • surveys

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