Statement of Purpose To examine the association between state firearm legislation and youth gun carrying in the United States over a 15-year period and to identify policy areas that need to be prioritized in reducing youth gun carrying.
Methods/Approach We linked person-level gun carrying data from a nationally representative sample of U.S. youth with state-level gun policies between 1997 and 2011. Cross-classified mixed effects logistic regressions estimated the associations between state gun policies and individual gun carrying and explored whether the associations varied by age and population subgroups.
Results Youths in states with more restrictive gun policies were less likely to carry a handgun than youths in states with more lenient policies. A greater number of state gun laws particularly protect youth at the younger age spectrum, and the associations were comparable across population subgroups. In addition, regulations on child gun access prevention, concealed carrying permitting, gun trafficking, domestic violence-related laws, and background check appeared critical in reducing youth gun carrying.
Conclusion State firearm legislation can be an effective mechanism to reduce youth gun carrying and ultimately mitigate gun-related mortality and morbidity.
Significance U.S. states should enact gun laws that reduce youth gun carrying and more importantly find ways to adequately enforce those laws.