Does gun prevalence affect teen gun carrying after all?
Previous research suggests that American adolescents usually have ready access to guns, and that the extent of misuse of guns by adolescents is not much affected by local gun prevalence or regulation. This "futility" claim is based on one interpretation of survey data from several cities, but has not been tested directly. Here we do so using microdata from a nationally representative survey, the 1995 National Survey of Adolescent Males. Using the restricted geo-coded version of these data, and conditioning on an extensive set of covariates, we find (among other results) that the likelihood of gun carrying increases markedly with the prevalence of gun ownership in the given community. We also analyze the propensity to carry other types of weapons, finding that it is unrelated to the local prevalence of gun ownership. The prevalence of youths carrying both guns and other weapons is positively related to the local rate of youth violence (as measured by the robbery rate), confirmatory evidence that weapons carrying by youths is motivated in part by self-protection.
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