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Drug Dealing and Gun Carrying Go Hand in Hand: Examining How Juvenile Offenders' Gun Carrying Changes Before and After Drug Dealing Spells Across 84 Months

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 36 Dated: 2020 Pages: 993-1015
Meagan Docherty; Edward Mulvey; Jordan Beardslee; Gary Sweeten; Dustin A Pardini
Date Published
23 pages
This study examined whether periods of marijuana and other illicit drug dealing (“spells” of dealing) were associated with changes in young male offenders’ gun carrying behavior.
The study used 84 months of data from a sample of 479 serious juvenile male offenders who were assessed every 6 months for 3 years and then annually for 4 years. At each assessment, participants reported on engagement in illicit behaviors, including drug dealing and gun carrying, in each month since the prior interview. Fixed effects models were used to assess within-individual changes in participants’ gun carrying immediately before, during, and immediately after a dealing spell, while controlling for relevant time-varying confounds (e.g., gang involvement, exposure to violence). In addition, moderation by type of drug sold was tested. The study found a slight increase in gun carrying right before a drug dealing spell (OR=1.3–1.4), then a more pronounced increase in gun carrying during the months of a drug dealing spell (OR=8.0–12.8). Right after a dealing spell ended, youths’ gun carrying dropped dramatically, but remained significantly elevated relative to their baseline levels (OR=6–2.8). The association between drug dealing spells and increases in gun carrying was stronger when participants dealt hard drugs (e.g., cocaine, heroin) compared to marijuana. 52 references (publisher abstract modified)