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Study Find that Nearly 25 Percent of Young Assault Victims Owned Guns

Does owning a firearm help protect you from violence? A new study has found that young gun owners might be disproportionately likely to get into violent situations. Researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have found about 25 percent of young assault victims between the ages of 14 to 24 years old possess a gun, and 83 percent of those youths had obtained the gun illegally.

The researchers argue gun owners have a disproportionately high chance of getting into a fight, using drugs or having an aggressive attitude. The researchers did not say why there was a connection between guns and violence. It might simply be the case that violent people are generally more willing to buy a gun, and that gun ownership has no impact on a person’s violent attitudes. However, another study revealed that gun owners are more likely to assume that others carry guns. It is possible that violent gun owner similarly assume that others are violent gun owners, which could lead to more confrontations.

However, guns did not play a very strong role during violent incidents. Just 3 percent of the gun owners reported they had threatened others with a firearm during the incident that led to their assault injuries.

The researchers recommended, "future prevention efforts should focus on minimizing illegal firearm access among high-risk youth, nonviolent alternatives to retaliatory violence and substance use prevention.”

Dr. Robert Sege of Boston Medical Center wrote in an accompanying study, “the continued high incidence of firearms deaths in the U.S. is a national disgrace. Despite declining rates over the past decade, firearm injuries remain the second leading cause of death for young Americans, trailing only motor vehicle crashes."

Other factors that have a strong positive correlation with gun ownership include being male, having a higher income and using drugs. The researchers found that race did not play a significant role in gun ownership among the study’s subjects.

There is clearly a strong correlation between gun ownership and violence among youth, but the inconclusive data has forces gun control advocates and gun rights proponents to read between the lines. Are young gun owners more likely to be violent, or is this simply an instance where correlation does not imply causation? 

Source: Med Page Today


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