Gun Control

Is 'Youth Gun Carrying' a Public Health Threat?

The answer, like the frequency of youth gun carrying, may vary from state to state.


Everett Area High School, Everett, Pennsylvania

Does it surprise you to learn that teenagers in Wyoming, New Mexico, and Virginia are more likely to report having carried a gun in the last month than teenagers in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York? Does it worry you? Ziming Xuan and David Hemenway, the authors of a study published yesterday by JAMA Pediatrics, think it should, and CNN seems to agree. What's not clear is why.

Xuan and Hemenway looked at responses to the following question in the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey: "During the past 30 days, on how many days did you carry a gun?" Notably, the survey does not ask why respondents carried a gun. Maybe they went hunting or target shooting. Maybe they are on a high school riflery team. Maybe they used a gun to defend themselves, to scare off a burglar, or to rob a bank.

Xuan and Hemenway simply assume that carrying a gun is bad, and they proceed to link that frightening phenomenon to the strictness of each state's firearm regulations, based on three years of survey data from 38 states. Not surprisingly, the states with strict gun laws, which also tend to be the states with the lowest rates of gun ownership, are the ones where high school students are least likely to report having carried a gun at least once during the previous month. Or as Xuan and Hemenway put it:

A 10-point increase in the state gun law score, which represented a more restrictive gun law environment, was associated with a 9% decrease in the odds of youth gun carrying….Adult gun ownership mediated the association between state gun law score and youth gun carrying…

More restrictive overall gun control policies are associated with a reduced likelihood of youth gun carrying. These findings are relevant to gun policy debates about the critical importance of strengthening overall gun law environment to prevent youth gun carrying.

Here is another association I bet Xuan and Hemenway would find: People in Wyoming, New Mexico, and Virginia are less keen to "prevent youth gun carrying" than people in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, because they see nothing inherently wrong with it. To the contrary, training teenagers how to properly use a gun may be a respected and cherished part of their culture, no matter how horrifying that might seem to a couple of public health researchers in Boston.

CNN notes that "the study did not address whether fewer teenagers carrying guns could lead to less youth gun violence and death" but quotes Xuan as calling that "a reasonable conclusion." Again, I suspect the perceived reasonableness of that conclusion also is correlated with firearm regulations and rates of gun ownership, which in turn are correlated with attitudes toward guns. Xuan and Hemenway concede that "neighborhood-level unmeasured factors, including culture and attitudes toward guns, and individual-level factors, including socioeconomic status, may confound the association between gun laws and youth gun carrying." 

Despite the uncertainty about the reasons teenagers come into contact with guns, the risks posed by such contact, and the causal role of gun laws (as opposed to the gun culture they reflect), Xuan and Hemenway think their study illustrates "the critical importance of comprehensive state-level gun law environment to prevent youth gun carrying," since "gun violence poses a substantial public health threat to adolescents in the United States."

CNN's headline suggests sympathy for this point of view: "Study: Stricter State Gun Laws Keep Firearms Out of Hands of Youth." Something we all want, right?

[Thanks to CharlesWT for the tip.]

NEXT: Ahmed Muhamed's Arrest: Clock Kid Truthers Miss the Point

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  1. No.

    Next question.

  2. Many of us New Yorkers consider anything south of Perth Amboy NJ and West of the NJ Interstate 80/287 until you get to the West Coast Mississippi.

    Ya’ll can have your kids running around with guns.

    We like it here were the average Joe can’t walk around with a loaded firearm.

    1. God, Tulpa, you are so fucking predictable.

      1. I’m not Tulpa….

        Can’t you tell who I am ….
        Give you a Hint…..KEEP DOPE ALIVE !!!

            1. Well, you are slightly less tiresome and offensive than Tulpa, anyway.

    2. This character is boring, Tulpa. Your last few were better.

      1. After a while, everyone runs out of material.

        1. He’ll be here all week folks. Tip your waitress, servator.

    3. We like it here were the average Joe can’t walk around with a loaded firearm.

      So do the criminals, murderers and rapists.

  3. Is pants-wetting hysteria a public health threat?


    1. I’ve served on a couple of panels for determining standards in ERs nationwide. There’s always a few pants-wetters who want us to ask all patients if they own a gun as part of routine admission screening (along the lines of “do you smoke cigarettes?” or “have you recently been to West Africa?”). Fortunately, the majority of the panels to date — while not condemning the concept of the question itself — have decided not to endorse the question as “too controversial”. But the pants-wetters seem to grow in numbers each time the idea is brought up.

      The solipsism is incredible. These people can’t even imagine why anyone would want to own a gun, and think that anyone who does must be a threat to themselves or others.

  4. This post will surely get the comments it deserved, published as it was at the same time as AM links.

    1. Between Rich @ 9:03AM and C. S. P. Schofield @ 9:08AM, how much more is there to say?

  5. When will we have sensible survey controls?

    1. Please God, never. Under the First Amendment they have an absolute right to publish their drivel. Amd we have an absolute right to ridicule them for it.

      Which right they hate, and would abolish if they could.

  6. Either these people have no business conducting anything that might be called “research”, or they are ignoring the effects of their own bias on purpose. It’s embarrassing that they got paid for producing this dreck.

    1. They’re court intellectuals. Their business is precisely what they’re doing; providing intellectual cover for the state and to build up state-centric ideologies and policies. In return they get a subsidized education in a field that owes it’s entire existence to artificial demand from the state and it’s institutions.

      1. Intellectuals are by definition, people who don’t do real work or try to implement their own ideas.

        1. …and are never held accountable for failure.

        2. Literally not the definition. Isaac Newton was an intellectual. That fact disqualifies your claim.

        3. Now, that isn’t entirely fair. But neither is the appropreation of the once-respectable title of “intellectual” by the Clerisy. The hard truth is that the vast majority of those who consider themselves “intellectuals” are nothing of the kind, in spite of their expensive educations. What they are is Clerks, which is probably why the concept of Socialism – a society run by bureaucrats, which are Clerks with two extra syllables – holds such endless fascination for them.

          1. The point is that intellectual is a broad term that may carry some well-deserved stereotypes but is certainly not universal. When you break down “intellectual” into it’s subsets you get closer to being able to universalize the claim. Like “sociologist” for example.

            1. Yes. If you assume that “Sociologist” means “nitwit”, you won’t be wrong often enough to matter.

    2. CNN notes that “the study did not address whether fewer teenagers carrying guns could lead to less youth gun violence and death”

      Hilarious. They auto-summed up some numbers in Excel and published it, but they couldn’t be bothered to ask any actually useful questions.

      1. “they couldn’t be bothered to ask any actually useful questions.”
        Note that the lack of effort in no way impeded their ability to leap to convenient conclusions.

        1. It is axiomatic that guns are bad, mmkay?

          1. No.

        2. Hey, leaping to expedient conclusions is probably the only exercise they get.

      2. Because they know exactly what the answers would be.

  7. Not surprisingly, the states with strict gun laws, which also tend to be the states with the lowest rates of gun ownership, are the ones where high school students are least likely to report having carried a gun at least once during the previous month.

    And even more not surprisinglyer, it’s those same states with strict gun laws which also tend to be the states where the likelihood of a teen getting shot is much greater.

    1. That’s a correlation which may have nothing to do with gun laws. Control for all the things that these researchers ignored and then let’s see what shakes out.

    2. Gee, high school students in areas run by authoritarian buttinskis are unlikely to admid to breaking The Rules! Who knew?

  8. “CNN notes that “the study did not address whether fewer teenagers carrying guns could lead to less youth gun violence and death” but quotes Xuan as calling that “a reasonable conclusion.”

    That is some pretty egregious question begging going on there.

    “gun violence poses a substantial public health threat to adolescents in the United States.”

    Yes it does…to adolescents living in poorer neighborhoods and more so in states with strict gun laws.

    One thing you can count on like the sun coming up is that gun-grabbers lie. Deceit is their stock-in-trade.

    1. This one seems especially egregious and stupid. It’s pretty fucking obvious why and under what circumstances teens use guns more in some states.

    2. Actually, violent crime being down from 1970’s levels, I question that it IS a “substantial” risk.

    3. Better question: “Is fearmongering and crisis-crafting on the rise in a society where murder, domestic abuse, violence against women, violence against minorities, and fatuous ‘studies’ receive national attention?”

      Or more derivative for those at home or those hard of reading; “When will the proles stop buying unfounded nonsensical progressive spazzatura?”

      Oh my feelings!

    4. One thing you can count on like the sun coming up is that gun-grabbers lie. Deceit is their stock-in-trade.

      Deceit? I dunno, maybe. Horribly researched? Clearly. IMO, this is a *much* bigger plague on social science research. Unlike the ‘hard’ sciences, which can be extrapolated from empiricism, they intrinsically use assumption as bedrock.

      I’ve seen enough ‘gun culture’ and ‘non-gun culture’ meetups to know that there are customs that other sides are completely oblivious to. I don’t, for the life of me, understand how actors continue to walk around movies with their fingers on the trigger and talk to each other by gesturing at each other with their weapons. It’s like talking to someone by waiving a torch or carving knife in their face. My wife didn’t have a problem with it at all until I pointed it out.

      Similarly, I assume there are people brought up so awash in lies, misinformation, and under exposure that, to them, “Of course fewer guns lead to less violence and death.”

      1. is unquestionably true.

  9. Here on the Ohio – Wv border schools actually close some for deer season.

    1. Here in Louisiana we still close schools for the opening of squirrel and of deer season.

  10. Seems like these answers would vary heavily with the time of year. Even in New York state, you would probably get different answers during or right after hunting season than you would in, say, April.

    1. Not to mention that varmint “hunting” in Wyoming might be better chalked up under ‘defense of self and property’ at any point in the year in Wyoming while it might be regarded as sport or even unnecessary in NY.

      At least, when people ask me about shooting and whether I’ve killed any animals, it seems to assuage their mental demons when I explain that killing overpopulated prey and lower-tier predators helps keep the higher-tier predators from becoming too abundant or audacious.

      1. “At least, when people ask me about shooting and whether I’ve killed any animals…”

        My answer to such questions is invariably “Yes. So what?” I don’t bother trying to assuage the mental demons of nincompoops.

  11. Seems like these people are trying to make guns seem just like smoking, where more is necessarily bad.

    I think that most people (outside of large coastal and upper mid-western cities anyway) will see how transparently idiotic this is. Anyone who has lived anywhere at all rural knows exactly why kids use guns more in more rural states with better gun laws and why it isn’t a problem.

  12. I started learning to shoot when I was 4 on the banks of the Gila river in Arizona. I taught my son to shoot when he was 4 in what was then an abandoned army camp from WWII – Camp Livingston.

    Neither one of us have ever had a gun mishap or injured anyone or damaged any property.

    Fuck these two idiots.

    1. Oh, please, no. That’s an excellent way of contracting whatever is rotting their minds.

    2. Shit. I just caused a big problem. I just returned from a hunting trip in western ND. Now both of my boys have to answer yes about handling guns. Worse yet we also brought one of my kids friends. It was his first big hunt. His parents don’t hunt so we have taken him under our wing. We brought him to gun safety class, to the range and on some basic hunts. He has liked it a lot so far and I’m so happy that there is a new hunter.

  13. I like the way the conflate some 14 year old gangbanger carrying a stolen nine with a kid getting trained on firearms safety and going hunting with his family.

    Their big problem, of course, is that the states where their survey shows yoots carrying guns are the very states where yoots don’t shoot people nearly as often. That’s why they didn’t bother to study any correlation with actual crime.

  14. “Xuan and Hemenway simply assume that carrying a gun is bad”

    So? Shall not be infringed biotch!!

    Infringers want to infringe cause they want the state to go on a robbery binge.

  15. One of the many reasons I like private school. My son signed up for the rifle club on his first day.

  16. Alternate CNN headline: “Correlation and Causation: What the Fuck are They?

  17. There is relatively little to fear from a high school rifle team, wearing penguin suits, and armed with what look like mostly Ansch?tz 1903 rifles. Just try not to look like a dime; if that fails, try to force them to turn around or walk.

    Or are youth guns like elephant guns?

  18. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!……


  19. Xuan and Hemenway don’t get out much. I’d love to have them sit through one of our Hunter Education classes.

    Then I’d show them the figures. In 2010 Texas Hunter Ed instructors graduated 41,785 students, a large majority of them teens or tweens. (Minimum certification age is 9.) Last year, 2014, we graduated 72,026. And there are Hunter Education programs in all U.S. states and territories, and Canadian provinces and territories. Certification in any of them allows you to hunt in all of them.

    Once Xuan and Hemenway got their breath back, we could introduce them to the 4-H Shooting Sports program, which starts in the third grade. Then it’s off to Appleseed.

    They might be particularly “interested” in he reason most of the youths give for taking Hunter Ed. They’re tired of hunting only with their parents, and they’re taking the class so they can go hunting by themselves.

    [sound of heads exploding]

    1. And yet some of the same people in Texas explode with anger when a Muslim kid brings a clock to school. To be fair, some (most?) of the liberal people defending Ahmed definitely believe that a kid should be arrested for brining a gun to school, even if it was accidentally leaving their hunting rifle in their car.

      1. Actually, they “explode in anger” when any kid disassembles a digital clock and installs it in a briefcase so it looks like an IED, sets it to sound the alarm during one of his classes and claims “racial profiling” when he is questioned about it. Many question if it as not an exercise set up with approval, tacit or otherwise, of his parents who are supports of radical Islam.

  20. Everett High School? I went to the neighboring high school, and we didnt have a rifle club 8(

    Everett is the town where the DA charged the kid with humping the Jesus statue last year.

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