BOSTON (CBS) -- A new study out of Boston College finds that more young people are carrying guns these days -- especially white youths, teens in rural areas and those with families in higher income brackets.
Researchers found that the number of kids between 12 and 17 reporting that they carried a handgun over the past year has jumped 41% since 2002, "particularly among rural, White, and higher-income adolescents."
According to the study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, carriage rates went up from 3.1% to 5.3% among white youth, 2.6% to 5.1% among those whose families made more than $75,000 a year and from 4.3% to 6.9% among rural teens. Carriage rates decreased for Black youth from 4% to 3.2%.
"Rural youth have higher rates of carriage compared to youth in metropolitan areas, and that gap increased significantly over time," said Naoka Carey, a doctoral student at BC. "Carriage grew significantly among white youth, decreased for Black youth and grew more slowly for Latinx groups. So white teens started least likely to carry, but were most likely to carry in the most recent cohort."
The study did not look into why more teens are carrying firearms, but researchers say gun safety education should be happening with all teens and their families, regardless of preconceived notions about which groups are most likely to carry.
"This really disagrees with what many perceive as historical norms in handgun carriage, where it was more of a problem with urban areas and children of color," BC professor Rebekah Levine Coley told WBZ-TV.
The study was based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use & Health.
A report in the New England Journal of Medicine last week found that firearm-related deaths have now overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of death for those 19 years old and younger.
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