State Firearm Legislation and Youth/Young Adult Handgun Carrying in the United States

  • Beidi Dong
    Address correspondence to: Beidi Dong, Ph.D., Department of Criminology, Law and Society, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, George Mason University, 354 Enterprise Hall, 4400 University Drive, MS 4F4, Fairfax, Virginia 22030.
    Department of Criminology, Law and Society, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
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  • David B. Wilson
    Department of Criminology, Law and Society, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
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      To examine the association between state firearm legislation and youth/young adult handgun carrying in the United States and to identify policy priority areas for intervention.


      We linked person-level gun carrying data from a nationally representative sample of U.S. youth and young adults with state-level gun policies over a 15-year period. Cross-classified mixed effects logistic regressions estimated the associations between state gun policies and handgun carrying and explored whether the associations varied by person-level demographic characteristics.


      Youth and young adults in states with a greater number of gun policies were less likely to carry a handgun than youth and young adults in states with fewer gun policies. Regulations on gun purchasing, concealed carrying permitting, and domestic violence-related laws were particularly important in reducing youth/young adult gun-carrying behavior. In addition, these associations varied by gender and race/ethnicity.


      State firearm legislation may be an effective mechanism to reduce youth and young adult gun carrying and ultimately mitigate gun-related mortality and morbidity.


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