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A new federal study has found a sharp increase in affluent white minors who say they carry a handgun or have carried one before. It also revealed a decline in Black and Native American minors who say the same. Now, before we get into the study—y’all already know what the moral to this story is. A federal study is highlighting white privilege and the inaccuracies in Black stereotypes.
According to U.S. News, researchers for an annual U.S. federal survey asked teenagers across America about various health-related topics, including the number of times they carried a handgun in the past year. The study, which was published in Pediatrics Tuesday, surveyed more than 297,000 teenagers who were also surveyed between 2002 and 2019.
From U.S. News:
The researchers tracked handgun carriage among 12- to 17-year-olds between 2002 and 2019. At the outset, 3.3% said they’d carried a handgun at least once in the past year. By 2019, that had grown to 4.6%.
But the trends were not uniform: White teenagers reported the biggest increase in handgun carriage, while the rate declined among Black and Native American kids, and held fairly steady among Hispanic teens.
So, more white kids are walking around with firearms they shouldn’t be carrying while it’s those scary young minorities that have white America clutching its purse, huh? Shocking.
The study also revealed a reversal in whose kids are carrying guns in relation to family income. In 2002, the annual study showed that minors from low-income families were more likely to be carrying handguns but by 2019, it was kids from wealthier families that reported carrying them more.
More from U.S. News:
Among white kids, the rate of handgun carriage rose from 3.1% to 5.3% over time. In contrast, it fell from 4% to 3.2% among Black teens, and from 6.8% to 4.4% among Native Americans.
Clear differences emerged along income lines, as well — with kids from the wealthiest families showing a near-doubling in the rate of handgun carriage. Among those teens, from households making over $75,000 a year, the carriage rate rose from 2.6% to 5.1%.
The picture was different for kids from families with incomes of less than $20,000, whose gun carriage rate dipped from 4.3% to 3.7%.
“What was true in the ’90s may not be true today,” Naoka Carey, a doctoral candidate at Boston College and researcher for the study, said. “Let’s not make assumptions about which kids are carrying handguns.”
Ahh, but this is America, and if anyone thinks this study will put an end to preconceived notions about which minors are dangers to society, those people haven’t experienced America America-ing for long enough. (To be fair, the study also shows an increase in whites from rural areas carrying guns, and, well, that’s just not a surprise at all.)
Alex McCourt, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health who also studies gun policy, says the study is incomplete as it doesn’t provide context for why more teens are carrying guns.
“Why are they carrying a gun?” he said. “Do they feel they need it for protection?”
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that people rarely ask the “why” questions when Black kids are carrying guns. It’s basically dismissed as garden-variety thuggery when that’s the case. Poverty and historical oppression be damned, who really cares about context, amirite?
McCourt also said the increase could likely be attributed to the loosening of gun policies in certain states. Basically, adults in gun-friendly states can buy and openly carry guns easier (because Republicans are so damn Second Amendment obsessed) and as a result, their children have easier access to them. But Regardless of why, McCourt said, “This age group should not have access to handguns.”
For many of us, all this research reveals is that we need to be on the lookout for the next Kyle Rittenhouse and stop looking at every Black teen walking the street like they are America’s greatest threat.