Factors Preventing Gun Acquisition and Carrying Among Incarcerated Adolescent Males | Adolescent Medicine | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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March 2001

Factors Preventing Gun Acquisition and Carrying Among Incarcerated Adolescent Males

Author Affiliations

From the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program (Drs Freed, Carrese, and Wilson and Mr Longwell), Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (Drs Freed and Wilson) and Department of Medicine (Dr Carrese), Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md; Center for Gun Policy and Research, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (Dr Webster), Baltimore; and Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston, Mass (Dr Freed).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001;155(3):335-341. doi:10.1001/archpedi.155.3.335

Context  Despite the wide availability of guns in the United States, not all delinquent adolescents own guns and not all adolescent gun owners carry them at all times. Research about the factors that prevent high-risk youth from acquiring and carrying guns is limited.

Objective  To determine, from the perspective of incarcerated adolescent males, factors that prevent acquiring or carrying guns, either on a temporary or permanent basis.

Design and Setting  In-depth, semistructured interviews were conducted with randomly selected incarcerated adolescent males at a residential juvenile justice facility from January to May 1998. Transcribed interviews were examined for recurrent themes.

Participants  Forty-five incarcerated adolescent males.

Main Outcome Measures  Reported factors limiting gun acquisition and carrying.

Results  Seventy-one percent of the sample had either owned or carried a gun out of their home. We identified 6 recurring themes that, at least on occasion, prevented or delayed delinquent youth from acquiring or carrying guns. The most commonly cited factors were fear of being arrested and incarcerated and lack of perceived need for a gun. Other themes included not wanting to hurt oneself or others, respect for the opinions of others, inability to find a source for a desired gun, and lack of money to acquire a desired gun.

Conclusions  We identified 6 factors that limited gun acquisition and carrying among a sample of incarcerated male adolescents. Knowledge of these factors should inform intervention efforts to reduce youth gun acquisition and carrying.