Population Health

August 3, 2022

Researchers seek to increase firearm safety in rural areas by studying patterns among youths

Image of a barn in a rural settingResearchers from the University of Washington explored the patterns of handgun carrying among young people growing up in rural areas as part of a wider Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded series of projects focusing on firearm violence and injury prevention. Their goal was to inform programs that help prevent violence and injury from firearms in rural areas by gaining a better understanding of the motivation and culture behind handgun carrying in these areas.

The team identified six patterns of handgun carrying in rural areas over the course of nearly 10 years of survey and observation. By comparing handgun carrying patterns among the youth in rural areas to those in urban areas, researchers found that nearly twice as many youths in rural areas carry handguns. In fact, a third of youths in rural areas report carrying a handgun by age 26.

These statistics are likely related to the inherent gun culture in rural areas, which is an area the researchers will explore further to inform their prevention efforts through community-specific findings. By understanding when and why rural youths are inclined to begin carrying handguns, the researchers are equipped to continue this project by creating intervention plans and firearm safety education modules for ages and frequencies that will best benefit individual rural communities.

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