Gun violence among young adults with a juvenile crime record in North Carolina: Implications for firearm restrictions based on age and risk.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Youth who acquire a juvenile crime record may be at increased risk of perpetrating gun violence as adults. North Carolina and 22 other states permit young adults who were adjudicated by a juvenile court - even for some felony-equivalent offenses - to legally access firearms. Effectiveness of gun restrictions for adults with juvenile crime histories has not been systematically studied. This article reports findings from a longitudinal study of arrests and convictions for gun-involved and other offenses in 51,059 young adults in North Carolina, comparing those with gun-disqualifying and not-disqualifying juvenile records. The annualized rate of arrest for gun-involved crime in those with a felony-level juvenile record was 9 times higher than the rate of reported comparable offenses in the same age group in the North Carolina general population (3349 vs. 376 per 100,000). Among those with a felony-equivalent juvenile delinquency adjudication who became legally eligible to possess firearms at age 18, 61.8% were later arrested for any criminal offense, 14.3% for a firearm-involved offense. Crimes with guns were most likely to occur among young adults who had committed more serious (felony or equivalent) offenses before age 18; had been adjudicated at younger ages; acquired a felony conviction as a youth; and spent time in prison. The prevalence of arrests for crimes involving guns among young adults in North Carolina with a gun-disqualifying felony record acquired before age 18 suggests that the federal gun prohibitor conferred by a felony record is not highly effective as currently implemented in this population. From a risk-based perspective, these restrictions appear to be justified; better implementation and enforcement may improve their effectiveness. Gun crime prevention policies and interventions should focus on these populations and on limiting illegal access to firearms.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Swanson, JW; Tong, G; Easter, MM; Sivaraman, JC; Gifford, EJ; Gardner, BO; Donnelly, EA; Evans, KE; Copeland, WE; Swartz, MS; Bonnie, RJ

Published Date

  • December 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 165 / Pt A

Start / End Page

  • 107279 -

PubMed ID

  • 36191654

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0260

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ypmed.2022.107279


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States