Effect of gun carrying on perceptions of risk among adolescent offenders

Thomas A. Loughran, Joan A. Reid, Megan Eileen Collins, Edward P. Mulvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objectives. We observed how perceptions of risks, costs, crime rewards, and violence exposure changeas individual gun-carryingbehavior changes among high-risk adolescents. Methods.Weanalyzed a longitudinal study (2000-2010) of serious juvenile offenders in Maricopa County, Arizona, or Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, assessing within-person changes in risk and reward perceptions, and violence exposure as individuals initiated or ceased gun carrying. Results. Despite being associated with heightened exposure to violence, gun carrying was linked to lower perceptions of risks and costs and higher perceived rewards of offending. Gun carrying was not time-stable, as certain individuals both started and stopped carrying during the study.Within-person changes in carrying gunswere associated with shifting perceptions of risks, costs, and rewards of crime, and changes in exposure to violence in expected directions. Conclusions. Gun carrying reduces perceptions of risks associated with offending while increasing actual risk of violence exposure. This suggests that there is an important disconnect between perceptions and objective levels of safety among high-risk youths.Gun-carrying decisionsmaynot onlybeinfluencedby factors ofprotection andselfdefense, but also by perceptions of risks and reward associated with engaging in crime more generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-352
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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