Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Prevalence of Gun Carrying Among Youths: One in 15 male and one in 50 female high school students reported carrying a gun for non-recreational purposes at least once during the preceding 12 months.
  2. Association with Violence, Suicidal Ideation, and Substance Use: Gun carrying was significantly more prevalent among youths who experienced violence, had suicidal thoughts or attempts, or engaged in substance use, with adjusted prevalence ratios (aPR) indicating a significant association.
  3. Demographic Variations: Gun carrying was most common among non-Hispanic Black male students, followed by Hispanic and non-Hispanic White students. Among females, Hispanic students reported higher rates of gun carrying.
  4. Implications for Public Health: The findings highlight the need for comprehensive strategies focusing on preventing youth violence and suicide by addressing youth substance use and gun carrying.
  5. Contextual and Structural Factors: Social and structural conditions such as concentrated poverty, high crime rates, and experiences of violence, discrimination, or racism may influence the prevalence of gun carrying among youths.

Original Article Author and Citation

Corresponding Author

Thomas R. Simon,

Suggested Citation

Simon TR, Clayton HB, Dahlberg LL, David-Ferdon C, Kilmer G, Barbero C. Gun Carrying Among Youths, by Demographic Characteristics, Associated Violence Experiences, and Risk Behaviors — United States, 2017–2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:953–957. DOI.


This MMWR report reveals concerning trends in gun carrying among high school students, highlighting a significant gender disparity and a strong association with violence exposure, suicidal behavior, and substance use. It underscores the urgent need for targeted prevention strategies.


The study utilized data from the 2017 and 2019 administrations of CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, with an emphasis on gun carrying for nonrecreational purposes. It investigated the prevalence of this behavior and its association with violence experiences, suicidal ideation or attempts, and substance use.


The findings indicate a pressing public health issue, with a notable prevalence of gun carrying among certain demographics of youth. The study identifies key risk factors, including violence exposure and risky behaviors such as substance use, and calls for comprehensive prevention efforts.


Comprehensive public health strategies, considering the wider social and structural contexts influencing youth behavior, are critical in addressing the multifaceted issue of gun carrying among youths.

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