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New Studies Find Rise in Teens Carrying Firearms and More Proof that Guns in Homes Make Families Less Safe

Since 2002, the Rate of 12-17 year-olds Carrying Firearms Jumped 41%, According to a Study Released Tuesday

A Separate Study Released Wednesday Found that Women Living with Handgun Owners Are Nearly 50% More Likely to Die by Suicide

CHICAGO — Two studies released this week shed light on the trends and cost of gun use in America. One study published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics looked at the number of teens aged 12-17 who carried a gun in the prior year and found a 41% increase in carrying guns since 2002. The other study, published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, analyzed suicide rates among women living with handgun owners and found that they have almost double the risk of suicide when compared against women in homes without handguns. 

“Together, these studies indicate that the mountain of evidence that having guns increases the risk of death is growing and at the same time, more people are being exposed to guns as adolescents,” said Nina Vinik, founder and executive director of Project Unloaded. “There’s no question that the presence of a gun makes people less safe. At Project Unloaded, we’re committed to empowering young people with the facts so they can make an informed choice about using and carrying guns. As more and more teens struggle with their mental health, the access to guns creates an even greater risk – and it makes our work even more urgent.”

Project Unloaded, which launched in early 2022, is working to change the cultural narrative about gun ownership and safety. The organization’s first campaign reaches young people, the majority of whom say they’re interested in gun ownership, on the social media platforms where they already spend their time to educate them on the risks of using guns. By flipping the script on gun culture and pushing back directly on the myth that more guns make us safer, the organization believes it can save lives.

Key findings from the Pediatrics report on teen and pre-teen gun use include:

  • From 2002 – 2019, the number of people ages 12 – 17 carrying a handgun jumped by 41 percent.

  • The increase was most notable for rural, white and higher-income young people.

  • Today, white and Hispanic adolescents are the most likely to carry a gun and Black and Asian American young people are least likely.

Key findings from the JAMA Psychiatry report on women living with handgun owners include:

  • Women living with handgun owners are nearly 50% more likely to die by suicide compared with women in homes without guns.

  • Women in households with and without guns had similar rates of suicide by means other than firearm. The difference in suicide rates between homes with and without guns is accounted for by the increase in firearm suicide specifically.

  • Women account for 85% of adults who live in a home with a gun but don’t own guns themselves.


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