BACKGROUND: Despite being unable to purchase firearms directly, many adolescents have access to guns, leading to increased risk of injury and death. We sought to determine if the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) changed adolescents' gun-carrying behavior. METHODS: We performed a repeated cross-sectional study using National Youth Risk Behavior Survey data from years 1993 to 2017. We used a survey-weighted multivariable logistic regression model to determine if the NICS had an effect on adolescent gun carrying, controlling for state respondent characteristics, state laws, state characteristics, the interaction between the NICS and state gun laws, and time. RESULTS: On average, 5.8% of the cohort reported carrying a gun. Approximately 17% of respondents who carried guns were from states with a universal background check (U/BC) provision at the point of sale, whereas 83% were from states that did not have such laws (P < .001). The model indicated that the NICS together with U/BCs significantly reduced gun carrying by 25% (adjusted relative risk = 0.75 [95% confidence interval: 0.566-0.995]; P = .046), whereas the NICS independently did not (P = .516). CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents in states that require U/BCs on all prospective gun buyers are less likely to carry guns compared with those in states that only require background checks on sales through federally licensed firearms dealers. The NICS was only effective in reducing adolescent gun carrying in the presence of state laws requiring U/BCs on all prospective gun buyers. However, state U/BC laws had no effect on adolescent gun carrying until after the NICS was implemented.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health