One in five Colorado high school students say it is “sort of easy” or “very easy” to access a handgun, a study found.
New research, published Monday in The Journal of Pediatrics, analyzed 2019 data collected in Colorado as part of the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey — an anonymous survey of more than 46,500 high school students in the state. As part of a larger survey, the students were asked “If you wanted to get a handgun, how easy would it be for you to get one?”
The researchers found that 11.1% of respondents claimed it was “sort of easy” for them to access a handgun, and 8.8% said it was “very easy.” Other response options were “very hard” (how 60.6% answered) and “sort of hard” (how 19.4% answered).
The survey did not specifically ask about current access to a handgun, so it’s not clear if these students responded as if there was a handgun already at home, or if they could just walk into a store and buy one.
Still, lead author Ashley Brooks-Russell, an assistant professor in the Colorado School of Public Health, said the findings “highlight that it is relatively easy to access a handgun in Colorado for high school students.”
“It’s clear from our findings that we need to raise awareness and improve efforts to reduce firearm access for youth in Colorado to prevent suicide and fatal injuries,” said Brooks-Russell in a statement. “We hope our findings will help inform public health strategies, such as educating parents on the importance of secure home firearm storage, particularly if an adolescent is at risk for suicide.”
The study comes just one week after a gunman opened fire with an AR-15-style pistol at a grocery store in Colorado, killing 10 people. The suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, is 21 years old.
The shooting, like others in recent years, has sparked pushes for gun control. Colorado Rep. Jason Crow urged Congress last week to enact “common sense laws” regarding guns in the US.
“There are common sense laws and legislation that we can pass that will help make our communities safer. We just have to get them done. It’s that simple,” the Democrat told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
Earlier this month, the House passed H.R. 8 that would expand background checks on all commercial gun sales and H.R. 1146 to try and close what’s known as the “Charleston Loophole,” which allows some firearms to be transferred by licensed gun dealers before the required background checks are completed.
Locally, Colorado has in recent months advanced the Safe Storage of Firearms bill, which would require that firearms be “responsibly and securely stored when they are not in use,” in an effort to prevent children from accessing them.