Law and Human Behavior Volume: 43 Issue: 2 Dated: 2019 Pages: 144-155
Although longitudinal studies have found that male adolescents who deal drugs, associate with delinquent peers, and engage in aggressive behavior are at increased risk for carrying a gun (between-individual risks), it is unclear whether changes in these risk factors help to explain fluctuations in youth gun-carrying across adolescence (within-individual risks), so the current study examined this issue using a community sample of 970 adolescent males (58 percent Black, 42 percent White) assessed annually from ages 14 to 18.
Multilevel models examined the extent to which between-individual differences and within-individual changes in drug dealing, peer delinquency, aggressive behavior, and neighborhood disadvantage were associated with gun-carrying across adolescence. Each of these predictors, except for disadvantage, exerted a between-individual and within-individual influence for Black youth. For White youth, drug dealing was significant on both levels, peer delinquency was a significant between-individual predictor, and aggression was a significant within-individual predictor. Neighborhood disadvantage did not significantly predict gun-carrying in the model, on either the between- or within-individual level, for Black or White youth. These results emphasize the importance of examining race-specific predictors of gun-carrying among Black and White adolescents and point to drug dealing as a robust predictor of gun-carrying, at both the between-individual and within-individual levels for youth of either race. Efforts to prevent drug-market involvement and reduce aggressive behaviors in adolescence may in turn prove useful for preventing firearm violence. (publisher abstract modified)
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