New research describes gun possession and risk of violence among youth

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A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan Injury Center and Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center describes high rates of gun ownership among young assault victims. The  findings which were published in the most recent issue of Pediatrics, have implications for individual and community level youth violence prevention efforts.

The study presents data collected from 1581 assault injured patients, aged 14-24 years old,  seeking care at the Hurley Medical Center Emergency Department in Flint, Michigan.

Key findings include:

  • 23.1% reported firearm possession in the past 6 months
  • 17.6 % reported owning automatic or semiautomatic weapons
  • Those with firearms had higher rates of binge drinking and illicit substance use in the past 6 months
  • Reasons for  firearm possession included:  for protection (37.1), holding it for someone (10.1%), and because their friends carry guns (8.8%)
  •  Most youth reported receiving a gun from illegal sources (cash purchase or receiving it from a friend). Only 17% reported purchasing a handgun legally (department /sporting goods store or pawnship/gun shop)
  • Participants with firearms were more likely to endorse retaliatory attitudes. For example, 32.1 % agreed that “revenge was a good thing”, 14.3 % reported that they carried a gun to scare someone or to get back at someone.

Findings suggest that future prevention efforts need to focus on youth’s perceived and real feeling of safety through individual and community intervention,  attitudes towards retaliatory violence, substance use prevention and access to illegal firearms among high risk youth. 


Article Citation: Carter, P. M., Walton, M. A., Newton, M. F., Clery, M., Whiteside, L. K., Zimmerman, M. A.,& Cunningham, R. (2013). Firearm Possession Among Adolescents Presenting to an Urban Emergency Department for Assault. Pediatrics. Epub ahead of print.

UMHS Press Release: Gunning for trouble: Study of young assault victims finds high-risk mix of gun possession & aggression

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