1. Exposure to violence was significantly associated with gun carrying in participants.
2. Odds of gun carrying increased with each additional report of exposure to violence.
Evidence Rating Level: Excellent (1)
Study Rundown: Gun violence among youth is one of the critical public health concerns in the United States. Firearm-associated homicide and suicide are leading causes of death among American youths. The authors of this study sought to further understand the mechanisms driving gun carrying. Specifically, this study examined the associations among gun carrying, psychological distress, and exposure to violence. Generally, prior exposure to violence (experiencing or witnessing) was associated with psychological distress and gun carrying. This study has several limitations. Primarily, the sample size was limited to justice-involved male youths; consequently, the results may not be generalizable to other populations. Additionally, many participants had engaged in gun carrying prior to the study start; therefore, pre-carrying distress and exposure to violence could not be fully assessed. Overall, the results of this study suggest that exposure to violence increases risk of young men for carrying guns. This finding brings to light the potential for interventions following gun violence exposure to reduce gun carrying within the population.
In-Depth [prospective cohort]: In this longitudinal cohort study, baseline data was collected from justice-involved male youths. 4 subsequent follow-up assessments were then conducted at 6-month intervals to evaluate temporal associations between variables. With respect to bivariate analyses, youth who reported carrying a gun had significantly higher Global Severity Index scores (used to assess psychological distress) than those who did not report carrying a gun. These results were consistent across baseline and follow-up assessments. Additionally, exposure to violence (as either a victim or witness) was significantly related to gun carrying at all assessments. Specifically, the increased odds of gun carrying ranged from 1.63 to 1.87 for each unit increase in experiencing violence.
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