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Nearly 20 Percent of High School Students Report Access to a Handgun

MONDAY, March 29, 2021 -- Nearly one in five high school students report relatively easy access to a handgun, according to a study published online March 29 in Pediatrics.

Ashley Brooks-Russell, Ph.D., from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, and colleagues used data from the anonymous 2019 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey to estimate the population prevalence of adolescent perception of firearm access by demographic, geographic, and other individual health characteristics. The analysis included responses from 46,537 high school students.

The researchers found that nearly one in five students said it was either "sort of easy" (11.1 percent) or "very easy" (8.8 percent) to access a handgun. A higher prevalence of those responses was seen among boys and older-aged youth, with differences noted in racial and/or ethnicity groups. Students in schools in more rural areas were more likely to report perceived easy access. Access to a handgun was reported as more likely among students who had felt sad or hopeless, attempted suicide, or been in a fight.

"This highlights the need for efforts to address ways to reduce firearm access for youth, including secure storage at home, for the prevention of youth firearm suicide and other firearm injuries," the authors write.

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