Stricter Gun Laws Tied to Safer High Schools

Stricter gun laws tied to fewer student reports of being threatened/injured with a weapon at school

FRIDAY, March 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The adoption of stricter state gun laws is associated with improvements in school climate, including fewer students carrying weapons, according to a study published online March 21 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Marco Ghiani, Ph.D., from Boston College, and colleagues analyzed self-reported data from 926,639 adolescents from 45 states participating in the 1999 to 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. Analyzed responses included those related to carrying a weapon at school, the number of times the student experienced weapon threats or injuries at school, the number of school days missed due to feeling unsafe, and weapon carrying at any location. Furthermore, an index of gun control strength was created for 133 gun laws combined by state and year.

The researchers found that for each 15-point increase corresponding to a strengthening of gun control, there was an associated 0.8-percentage pointdecrease in the probability of weapon threats at school, a 1.1-percentage point decrease in the probability of missing school due to feeling unsafe, and a 1.9-percentage point decrease in the probability of carrying weapons at any location. The association between stricter gun laws and weapon carrying was stronger among male than female students. The association also varied by race/ethnicity.

"With the prevalence of weapon threats and fights at school decreasing only slightly, and the percentage of students who miss school due to feeling unsafe on the rise, school safety represents a policy priority across the fields of health and education," the authors write.

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