The Association between Perceived Community Violence, Police Bias, Race, and Firearm Carriage Among Urban Adolescents and Young Adults

Sokol, R. L., Kumodzi, T., Cunningham, R. M., Resnicow, K., Steiger, M., Walton, M., Zimmerman, M.A., & Carter, P. M. (2022). The Association between Perceived Community Violence, Police Bias, Race, and Firearm Carriage Among Urban Adolescents and Young Adults. Preventive medicine154, 106897. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2021.106897

Abstract

Firearms are a leading cause of death among youth and young adults. Given community violence is an important correlate of youth firearm carriage, we evaluated: 1) If the association between perceived community violence and firearm carriage is stronger when perceived police bias is greater; and 2) If this moderated association differs by race. Cross-sectional data came from screening data for a longitudinal study of firearm behaviors among young adults seeking urban emergency department treatment between July 2017-June 2018 (N = 1264). We estimated Poisson regressions with robust error variance to evaluate associations between perceived community violence, police bias, race, and firearm carriage. Community violence was positively associated with firearm carriage (average marginal effect [AME]: 0.05; 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 0.03, 0.07). We also found that the positive association between community violence and firearm carriage increased with higher perceptions of police bias (interaction p < 0.05). We did not find evidence of a three-way interaction by which the moderated association between violence exposure and firearm carriage by perceived police bias varied by race of the respondents. Our findings suggest that community-level strategies to reduce violence and police bias may be beneficial to decrease youth firearm carriage in socio-economically disadvantaged urban settings.