A scoping review of patterns, motives, and risk and protective factors for adolescent firearm carriage

J Behav Med. 2019 Aug;42(4):763-810. doi: 10.1007/s10865-019-00048-x. Epub 2019 Aug 1.


Firearm carriage is a key risk factor for interpersonal firearm violence, a leading cause of adolescent (age < 18) mortality. However, the epidemiology of adolescent firearm carriage has not been well characterized. This scoping review examined four databases (PubMed; Scopus; EMBASE; Criminal Justice Abstracts) to summarize research on patterns, motives, and underlying risk/protective factors for adolescent firearm carriage. Of 6156 unique titles, 53 peer-reviewed articles met inclusion criteria and were reviewed. These studies mostly examined urban Black youth, finding that adolescents typically carry firearms intermittently throughout adolescence and primarily for self-defense/protection. Seven future research priorities were identified, including: (1) examining adolescent carriage across age, gender, and racial/ethnic subgroups; (2) improving on methodological limitations of prior research, including disaggregating firearm from other weapon carriage and using more rigorous methodology (e.g., random/systematic sampling; broader population samples); (3) conducting longitudinal analyses that establish temporal causality for patterns, motives, and risk/protective factors; (4) capitalizing on m-health to develop more nuanced characterizations of underlying motives; (5) increasing the study of precursors for first-time carriage; (6) examining risk and protective factors beyond the individual-level; and, (7) enhancing the theoretical foundation for firearm carriage within future investigations.

Keywords: Adolescent; Carriage patterns; Firearm; Motives; Risk/protective factors; Scoping review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Databases, Factual
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Firearms
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Violence / prevention & control*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control*