As Parkland sentencing phase continues, new study shows it’s not uncommon for youth to carry guns

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A new federal report, based on youth surveys taken from across the country, including Florida, found that 1 in 15 boys and 1 in 50 girls reported carrying a gun in the last 12 months for non-recreational purposes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday released findings from surveys where teenagers were questioned about whether they had carried a gun in the past year for reasons other than hunting or for sports.

Researchers also found that gun carrying was more prevalent among those who experienced violence, suicidal ideation or attempts, or substance use.

“The prevalence of gun carrying was much higher among some subgroups of youths, particularly those who missed school because of safety concerns and those who had experienced violence,” the report states.

“For example, among those who were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, more than one in four males and one in nine females carried a gun. Youths who carried a gun more frequently were more likely to have engaged in substance use and to have experienced violence. Youths who carry guns often report self-protection as the reason.”

The report also found that with males, gun carrying was most common among non-Hispanic Black students (10.6%), followed by Hispanic students (7.2%) and non-Hispanic White students (6.1%).

For females, gun carrying was most common among Hispanic students (3.5%), followed by non-Hispanic Black students (2.0%) and non-Hispanic White students (1.1%).

The CDC report notes that suicide and homicide are the second- and third-leading causes of death for teenagers aged 14 to 17, and that nearly half of youth suicides and more than 90% of youth homicides result from firearms injuries.

The survey is coming out amid an increasingly polarized debate over guns and gun violence in the nation following a string of recent shootings, including the killings of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde Texas. An 18-year-old former student who was fatally shot by law enforcement was the perpetrator.

Currently, a South Florida a jury is in the middle of a penalty phase trial to determine whether to recommend the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz. Cruz was 18 years old when he shot 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The data was culled from the 2017 and 2019 versions of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)  The final sample included responses from more than 21,800 public and private school students from across the country.

The YRBS is a school-administered survey that asks questions about behaviors that contribute to unintentional injury and violence, tobacco product use, and alcohol and other drug use. YRBS also includes questions about sex, diet and physical activity.

Florida had participated in the national survey since 1991. But the Gov. Ron DeSantis administration told the CDC that Florida won’t participate in the national surveys and will instead conduct its own assessments. Following the announcement, 38 organizations and 40 individuals signed onto a letter asking the DeSantis administration to rethink its decision.

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