Departmental Papers (SPP)

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Journal Article

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Purpose: To examine high school students’ attitudes about firearm policies and to compare their attitudes with those of adults.

Methods: The Hamilton Youth and Guns Poll is the first national survey of high school students about their attitudes concerning firearm policies. Questions were asked of 1005 sophomores, juniors, and seniors about their actual (i.e., direct) exposure (e.g., presence of a gun in the home) and about their social (i.e., indirect) exposure (e.g., whether the student could get a gun) to firearms and related violence. Population weights were applied, and multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between demographic and exposure variables and opinions about firearm policies.

Results: Most high school students supported more restrictive firearm policies. Opinions varied little by demographic variables with the exception of gender. Females were significantly more supportive of most firearm policies. Actual exposure was a more consistent predictor than social exposure. Students living in a home with a gun, particularly a handgun, were less likely to support most restrictive gun policies.

Conclusions: Most high school students in the United States favor stringent policies governing firearms. Adolescents' attitudes about firearm policies parallel those of adults.


Postprint version. Published in Journal of Adolescent Health, Volume 33, Issue 6, December 2003, pages 471-478.
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NOTE: At the time of publication, authors Katherine A. Vittes and Susan B. Sorenson were affiliated with the University of California. Currently (August 2007), they are faculty members in the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.


attitudes, adolescents, firearms, gender differences, guns

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Date Posted: 15 August 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.