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Youths, violence and gun ownership
July 9th, 2013
02:52 PM ET

Youths, violence and gun ownership

Nearly one in four young adults and teenagers admitted to a Flint, Michigan, emergency department for non-sexual assault injuries say they currently possess a firearm of their own or have possessed one within the past six months, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The estimate is higher than past studies have found. One reason, according to the researchers, is that the young people studied had been involved in violent disputes; previous research looked at all comers to the emergency room.

Only 17% of those reporting they possessed a firearm say they obtained the weapon legally.

“This points to the ease with which American teenagers and young adults can get access to weapons, and in fact do," says Dr. Robert Sege, director of the Division of Family and Child Advocacy at Boston University School of Medicine.

"Also I think it points to something that I think we've known for a while, that a lot of the firearms injuries happen among a group of kids who fight a lot. And I think that this paper helps make that link.”

According to the study, 37% of those with firearms say they’re intended for protection.

“What I think is interesting that we found is that those that had it for protection had high rates of peer and partner associated violence within the past six months,” says Dr. Patrick Carter, the lead study author.

“So while they’re carrying it for protection, they’re also using it.”

Part of what makes the study unique is the topic itself: gun violence.

Despite approximately 30,000 firearm deaths due to suicides and homicides each year, according to CDC data, there has effectively been a ban on government-funded research on gun violence since congress passed the so-called “Dickey Amendment” in 1996, because it said that " none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control."

“Precisely what was or was not permitted under the clause was unclear.  But no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency's funding to find out,” Dr. Art Kellermann said earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Extramural support for firearm injury prevention research quickly dried up.  Even today, 17 years after this legislative action, the CDC's website lacks specific links to information about preventing firearm-related violence.”

Following the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, President Barack Obama in January signed an executive order directing the CDC to resume research on gun violence.  However, funding for this has not yet been made available.

"The administration is calling on Congress to provide $10 million for the CDC to conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between video games, media images, and violence," says CDC spokesman Tom Skinner.  "New funding is being proposed for FY 2014, and any funding for research activities would begin when these funds are appropriated or other funds are made available," he says.

In June, the Institutes of Medicine released a report listing priorities for gun violence research, such as the effectiveness of gun safety technology and the role of violent video games.

The Pediatrics journal study was funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the findings are based on enrollment information for a longer-term study.

"The more we understand the populations of at risk youth behavior and the more we understand the marketplace of how at-risk youth obtain this product and the more we understand the environments in which these at-risk youth are trying to make the best decision, or not, the better we're going to be able to reduce these bad events, firearm violence, and perhaps create environments that enable youths to make better decisions,” says Dr. Stephen Hargarten, director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.


soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Rick Handerson

    I get it, CNN. You guys absolutely love guns here. Let's throw out the fact that Flint, MI is probably (next to Detroit) one of the biggest ****-holes on the planet, full of gangs and other assorted violence like: stabbings, beatings, and all sorts of nasty stuff. Why don't you guys include any of that? Oh no! The guns!

    July 9, 2013 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Oogie

      Precisely.

      July 10, 2013 at 20:45 | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Look...Any insecure city kid who has been seriously threatened with a gun and can get one...will! Just like drugs, they are everywhere....In your house or with enough cash available on the street. Now these kids feel safe among their more violent peers, but with no responsible adult supervision.
      Rural kids grow up with guns. ...It's a right of passage: your first .22 or maybe 20 gauge shotgun....for varmint hunting...or target plinking with your dad or other adult .....hopefully and most often giving safety and proper handling etc...Face it ....You can't ban em....just learn how to responsibly use em!

      July 11, 2013 at 15:03 | Report abuse |
  2. Gnome Chomski

    CNN's "statisticians" are again guilty of extreme confirmation bias, something that every undergraduate statistics student learns to avoid. CNN, you are LLPOF!!!!

    July 9, 2013 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Mark five

    So poverty and the war on drugs has no causal affect? CNN and all the lefties just wans the American people unarmed so they can control them more easily.

    July 10, 2013 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Confused

    Is this a news report? Or a commentary? It would help if whoever posts these would be more specific.

    July 10, 2013 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. anitbias

    About the only thing really worth mentioning in this report is this qoute...."Also I think it points to something that I think we've known for a while, that a lot of the firearms injuries happen among a group of kids who fight a lot."

    Just goes as more evidence that violent people will be violent, has nothing to do with guns. They would use their fists, rocks, clubs, knives whatever they could get to try to even things out in a fight. It is their propensity toward violence that matters.

    If you really look at the statistics you will find that MOST, not all but most, of these events happen in areas with high drug/gang activity.

    July 10, 2013 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. terradome

    17 percent legal i assume that 17 percent were of age in the perfect world we live in.

    July 11, 2013 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. terradome

    data is always manipulated for the good of the user i guess.

    July 11, 2013 at 00:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Roger

    Please. My guns are worth more than some dead school kids.

    July 11, 2013 at 06:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sam

    In other news 75% of people who were treated did not possess a firearm, and 95% did not possess a firearm legally. Is no one else going to talk about the correlation of being unarmed and being attacked that this study reports?

    July 11, 2013 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
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    July 12, 2013 at 21:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jojo

    And guess what! Gun laws won't stop these thugs from getting guns because the guns they get WERE NEVER LEGAL TO BEGIN WITH. Gangs are VERY organized and will ALWAYS get their members guns! Always have and always will. Me-the second I can afford to, I'm buying a gun-legally. There's only about a hundred people I know-all white, non criminals (the kind nobody would ever think would own a weapon, lots of liberals in the group) who already own guns-and tons of ammo- and are eager for me to get one too. And the ammo to go with it. I hate guns, but these numbers convince me that without the right to self protection, we could have another holocaust on our hands -and that aint gonna happen.

    July 14, 2013 at 16:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. enr

    If you put a gun on a table in the middle of downtown anywhere, it's not going to hurt anyone. Guns dont kill people, people kill people with guns. If there wasnt any guns we would be under britains rule now. Kids today are exposed to guns the wrong way. When I was a kid, and I got in a fight win lose or draw it was over. Nowdays a kid gets in a fight out comes the guns. If you can't handle getting your butt whipped, maybe you should'nt be fighting. A 6 yr old can shoot someone. To me that's just chicken****!

    July 18, 2013 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Dee

    Nobody under 18 can legally possess a firearm, nobody under 21 can legally possess a pistol .. so when you say teenagers I have to question if the person writing the article know what is or isn't legal and just took some kid's word for it.

    That's about the level of CNN journalism and honesty

    July 25, 2013 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.