Nav: Home

Stricter US state gun laws linked to safer high schools

March 21, 2019

Adopting stricter state gun laws is linked to a safer school experience for students, finds research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Strengthening gun laws at state level was associated with teens being less likely to report being threatened or injured with a weapon at school, miss at least one day of school due to feeling unsafe, or to carry a weapon at any location.

Among 1.3 million discipline incidents reported in US public schools during the 2013-2014 school year, 1 in 20 were related to weapon possession, write the authors. And a particularly dangerous part of school crime is gun violence, they add.

Previous studies have explored the effect of youth-orientated gun laws on non-fatal injuries, suicide rates, deaths from unintentional shootings and firearm homicides among teens.

But no conclusive evidence was found and little is known on the link between state-level gun laws and school safety.

So to shed some light on this, researchers looked at the associations of stricter gun laws with students' weapon carrying and their perception of school safety.

They used data from the Youth Risk Behaviors Surveys (YRBS) conducted between 1999-2015, which included information on 926,639 teens across 45 states, who were all in 9th to 12th grade.

Students reported on weapon carrying at school, the number of times they experienced weapon threats or injuries at school, the number of school days missed due to feeling unsafe, and weapon carrying at any location.

For each state and year, 133 gun laws were combined into an index of gun control strength, with higher scores corresponding to a stricter gun law environment.

The researchers controlled for individual and state characteristics, as well as year and state fixed events. This included age, sex and race, as well as sociodemographic characteristics such as the unemployment rate, crime rates and state anti-bullying policy.

During the study period, many states strengthened their prohibitions of high-risk guns, and introduced laws preventing individuals with a history of domestic violence from owning or buying guns.

But 20 states allowed the use of a gun for self-defense without duty to retreat.

Stronger gun control (i.e. a 15-point increase in the score) was associated with a 0.8-percentage point decrease in the probability of being threatened or injured with a weapon at school (overall prevalence 7%), a 1.9-percentage point decrease in the probability of carrying a weapon at any location (overall prevalence 16%), and a 1.1-percentage point decrease in the probability of missing school due to feeling unsafe (overall prevalence 6.1%).

Overall, weapon carrying was more common among white students, compared with black and Hispanic students, while perceived threats were less common among white students compared with all other racial groups.

And stricter gun laws were more strongly associated with lower rates of weapon carrying among male students compared with female students.

Black students were more likely to carry weapons at school specifically in response to a strengthening in gun laws, but this may indicate a replacement for a firearm, say the authors.

This is an observational study, and may not be representative of all states. What's more, the information from students was volunteered, and the authors write that teens "might misreport certain behaviors due to social desirability."

But the research highlights that over the last two decades, 17 states experienced a weakening of gun control laws, which may facilitate teens' access to guns and increase levels of violence in schools, write the authors.

"With the prevalence of weapon threats and fights at school decreasing only slightly, and the percentage of students who miss school on the rise, school safety represents a policy priority across the fields of health and education," they conclude.
-end-


BMJ

Related Violence Articles:

Where climate change is most likely to induce food violence
While climate change is expected to lead to more violence related to food scarcity, new research suggests that the strength of a country's government plays a vital role in preventing uprisings.
New study shows youth violence on decline
Contrary to popular perception, a new study by Boston University professor Christopher Salas- Wright finds that youth violence is declining -- and at noteworthy rates.
Self-harm linked to violence towards others
There is a link between self-harm and the risk of violent criminality, according to a Swedish registry study carried out by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and published in the scientific journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Join forces to reduce US violence, says UK expert
Violence in the US can be reduced if police and health agencies join forces, says a leading UK expert.
Reducing severe violence among adolescents
A special section of the journal Child Development includes new research exploring severe youth violence.
The connection between child marriage and domestic violence
A new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology indicates that women across 34 countries are at increased risk for domestic violence if they marry before age 15.
Tampon makers could help reduce violence against women
Manufacturers of feminine hygiene products, including tampons and sanitary products, could dedicate a part of their revenues to support public health programmes that prevent violence against women, argues an expert in The BMJ this week.
Conference on gender and social violence
An international conference entitled A gender prospective on social violence will be held in Rome, Italy on Tuesday 21 June.
Is firearm violence greater among the mentally ill?
A new study finds that the majority of mental health professionals believe firearm safety issues are greater among mentally ill people, yet they do not screen their clients for firearms or provide firearm safety counseling.
Are money problems and violence related?
University of Iowa researchers find an association between financials stress and severe domestic abuse, but the discovery doesn't prove one leads to the other.

Related Violence Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...