Young guns: How low does it go?

Richard Spano, John M. Bolland, Lori Ann Post

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To specify the impact of first time gun carrying, by age, on violent behavior and gang membership in urban high risk youth.
Methods: A prospective longitudinal cohort study was conducted in Mobile, Alabama. This study compares first time gun carrying for adolescents, ages (ages 9 to 18).
Results: The findings indicate that: (1) there are no differences in violence or gang membership for first time gun carriers regardless of age; (2) 28% of first time gun carriers were “early onset” (age 9 to 11) or young guns; and (3) first time gun carrying, regardless of age, corresponded with a dramatic spike in violent behavior and gang membership.
Discussion: Delaying age of onset for first time gun carrying may reduce overall gun violence. A secondary benefit of delaying/preventing children carrying guns is a reduction in serious violent behavior and gang membership. As a result, policy should include younger adolescents, as young as nine years, to reduce gun violence because waiting until the teen or adult years will miss a significant portion of the population of gun carriers. Existing efforts focus on preventing adolescent access to guns, whereas they should be expanded to include gun carrying.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages10
JournalInternal Medicine Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2019


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