Boston, MA – On the heels of new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showing that firearms were the leading cause of death for children and teens aged one to 19 – surpassing motor vehicle deaths, Boston College researchers yesterday released a study finding that youth aged 12-17 are carrying handguns at a rate 40 percent higher than in 2002-2003. The study also showed, however, that Massachusetts’ teen handgun carriage rate has decreased 50 percent since 2002-2003 (2.2 percent in 2002-2003 to 0.9 percent in 2019-2020) and the state’s underage firearm death rate has also decreased (1.48/100,000 population to 1.36/100,000 population).
“We are saddened to learn of the disturbing trend of more teens carrying firearms and more children and teens dying from gun violence nationwide,” said John Rosenthal, founder and president of Stop Handgun Violence. “Decades of unrestricted access to deadly firearms without background checks or detection by law enforcement in 32 States has deadly consequences, especially among kids and teens. However, it is truly inspiring to see that what we have done in Massachusetts to prevent children from accessing firearms is working. In Massachusetts, we have strong firearm safety requirements, renewable licensing (similar to automobile licensing) and mandatory safe storage/child access prevention laws. These are clearly working to keep guns out of the hands of children and teens in Massachusetts. If every state had our strong firearm laws, we could save 27,000 lives a year nationally and keep our children safe from deadly firearms.”