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Worth the risk? Gun carrying and perceived criminal justice responses in Baltimore
  1. Cassandra Kercher Crifasi1,2,
  2. Marisa D Booty2,
  3. Shani A Buggs3,
  4. Daniel W Webster1,2,
  5. Susan G Sherman4
  1. 1Department of Health Policy & Management, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  3. 3Violence Prevention Research Program, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California Davis, Sacramento, California, USA
  4. 4Department of Health, Behavior, and Society, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Cassandra Kercher Crifasi, Department of Health Policy & Management, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA; ckerche1{at}


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

Statistics from


  • Contributors CKC, SAB, DWW, and SGS contributed to the study conception and design. All authors contributed to the analysis or interpretation of the data and drafting and revision of this article. All authors reviewed and approved the final submission.

  • Funding Funding for data collection came from Everytown for Gun Safety and the Norman Raab Foundation.

  • Disclaimer Funders had no role in the study design, statistical analyses, interpretations of data or drafting of this article.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was reviewed and approved by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health IRB.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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