Recently, we featured a new study that found that youths with guns are disproportionately likely to become victims of violence. The study did not conclude how guns and violence among youth were connected (if at all), but a new poll might shed some light on the question.
Researchers at the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center polled 689 teenagers and young adults between the ages of 14 to 24. They found that the number one reason why young people felt that they needed guns was for personal protection. And, based on the earlier study about youth violence, they are right to be worried.
"There's definitely a feeling among people that they need some kind of self-protection," explained Susan Morrel-Samuels of the MYVPC. “Often that means a firearm."
This is especially true for young women. The study found that about one third of those polled were women. Morrel-Samules stated, "There's been a lot of emphasis among manufacturers of firearms to market to young women. It's become increasingly acceptable for women to carry guns as a means of self-protection."
The relative popularity of guns among at-risk youths is unfortunate, according to a policy statement form the American Academy of Pediatrics. The organization argues that the best way to prevent violence against youths is to restrict access to guns and other weapons. Fewer guns should mean fewer instances of violence. The recent study about violence against youths seems to back up the AAP’s claims.
The AAP and other gun control advocates might have a hard time keeping guns away from youths, however. "What's surprising is how easy it is for young people to get a gun, which they get from friends and family," said Robert Sege, a professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. "This is emblematic of the kind of work we need to do to understand the origins of lethal violence and ways to reduce it."
The problem is as plain as day, but the solution is a bit murky. Violence affects American youths far too often, but are guns the cause of the problem or the solution?