Possession and carrying of firearms among suburban youth

Public Health Rep. Jan-Feb 1995;110(1):18-26.


Despite a growing body of anecdotal evidence suggesting the spread of firearms to suburban juvenile populations, most studies of firearm activity by juveniles focus either on urban youth or on nationally representative samples that blur urban and nonurban distinctions. This study represents the first systematic empirical investigation specifically of a suburban population of juveniles. The authors examine both ownership and carrying behaviors, distinguish types of handguns involved, and assess the influence of drug activity, violent criminality, and the perception of one's social environment as dangerous upon the possession and carrying of firearms. Among the variables linked at the bivariate level to possession and carrying of guns were sex, involvement in criminal activity, involvement in drug activity, and most indicators of a dangerous social environment. At the multivariate level, however, only sex was associated with possession of a revolver, and only sex, criminal activity (for boys only), and one indicator of dangerous environment (having been threatened with a gun, for girls only) were associated with possession of an automatic or semiautomatic handgun. Aside from sex, criminal and drug activities were associated with gun carrying. Despite its importance among urban samples, in this study the dangerous environment was not linked to firearm activity. Possible reasons for this difference are explored in the conclusion.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior* / psychology
  • Crime
  • Female
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Louisiana / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Suburban Population*