Children and guns

A newly released report by the National Institute of Justice, High School Youths, Weapons, and Violence: A National Survey, finds that 29 percent of high school males surveyed have guns and 50 percent said they could easily obtain firearms. The study also reported that gun possession levels were highest for firearms more suited to hunting and sporting uses (rifles and shotguns) rather than criminal behavior (handguns).

While many studies link weapons to crime, the average respondent for this survey was not involved in serious criminal activity or delinquent behavior: 67 percent had never been expelled or suspended from school; 94 percent anticipated graduating from high school. Fourteen percent reported committing a theft, eight percent a burglary, two percent an armed robbery in the past 12 months. Five percent used a “hard” drug (heroin, crack, cocaine); three percent sold a hard drug; eight percent admitted gang affiliation.

Six percent said they carried a gun outside the home during the past 12 months. For those youth who carried guns, 43 percent said they did so for protection and 35 percent said they were holding it for someone else. Less frequent reasons for carrying guns included scaring someone, getting back at someone, feeling important, or using in a crime.

High School Youths, Weapons, and Violence: A National Survey (NCJ 172857) is available from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, 1-800-851-3420 and at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/.

For further information on this or others safety topics please contact the University of Florida Police Department’s Community Services Division at 392-1409.