A new study published in The Journal of Rural Health, and an associated press release from the University of Washington, states that young adults in rural areas who drink have a 43% greater probability of carrying a handgun.

The study involved a sample of 2,002 young adults (up to age 26) in 12 rural communities in seven states, including Washington. Survey responses were collected annually from 2004 to 2019 starting when participants were in fifth & sixth grades. The first problem with this study lies there. These participants were 12 when the study began and 26 when it ended. Rural youth carry guns, it's that simple. In particular, rural youth aged 18 to 26 carry guns on a daily basis.

The study did not break out the differences between male and female respondents, nor did it address the respondents’ likelihood of firing the handgun. Researchers say that they believe that understanding youth behaviors associated with carrying a firearm could have significant safety implications.

The authors of the study also say that in 2020, suicide and homicide were among the leading causes of death in the U.S. among those aged 12-26 years old. However, there is no indication in this study that a majority of said gun violence is actually more associated with urban youth than those in rural communities.

However, what the authors of this study fail to see through their urban bubble is what those who live in rural communities have known for a very long time: most everyone living in rural areas carry firearms on a daily basis. This includes both long guns (rifles and shotguns) as well as handguns.

The reason is quite simple. Rural people live far differently that those in urban areas. Whereas the urban youth carry guns for gang-related purposes, drug dealing and other less than ideal reasons, folks in a rural community are FAR more likely to not only spend more time in forested areas, but also to hike, hunt and fish those lands and carry firearms for protection in those instances. Rural Americans are also substantially more likely to encounter wildlife in their own backyards and throughout their daily life.

The essence here is a cultural difference. Rural life is so alien to these researchers that they might as well be trying to understand a culture on the other side of the galaxy.

As to the correlation between alcohol use and carrying guns among rural youth, there isn't one. The only issue here is that the researchers don't have a clue about rural America.

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