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States with stricter gun laws have fewer issues with youth gun violence, study finds

Making it harder for kids to access guns increases safety for everyone

Photo (c) RichLegg - Getty Images
The strictness of gun laws varies from state to state. Recently, experts have found that in areas where these laws have tighter restrictions, the outcomes are better for both school safety and teens’ mental health.

Now, a new study conducted by researchers from Rutgers University has found that stricter gun laws also contribute to fewer overall instances of gun violence among young people. 

“We understood the role of individual characteristics in youth gun carrying, but we often ignored the broader environmental context surrounding youth gun carrying behavior, such as whether gun laws are in place in a state to discourage access to guns,” said researcher Paul Boxer. “Our study helped prove clarity to these associations.” 

Young people are safer

To better understand how gun laws can impact youth gun violence, the researchers looked at each state’s gun laws and compared them to related instances of violence -- particularly among young people -- between 2005 and 2017. 

The researchers learned that regulations around guns were a big indicator of whether or not young people were carrying weapons and whether gun violence occurred. The study showed that regions with more laws prohibiting carrying weapons were less likely to experience youth gun violence, while states with more lenient laws had more young people carrying weapons and more instances of gun violence. 

The findings highlight two states in particular that show these disparities: New York and Louisiana. In 2013, New York had more than 60 laws in place that prohibited weapon carrying; in turn, the rate of gun violence among young people that year was at just three percent. Conversely, Louisiana had 13 gun laws in place in 2017; that year, they experienced the highest rate of gun violence across the entire country, at nearly 13 percent. 

Moving forward, the researchers hope that legislators realize just how important these findings are. State’s gun laws can have a ripple effect on consumers’ safety in public places, and reducing gun violence should be the top priority. 

“Though more work is needed, the current findings point to the potential of gun laws to lower youth gun carrying behavior, which all sides of the gun-law debate can agree is unwanted and dangerous,” said researcher John Gunn. 

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