Arizona children interacting with guns at school at similar rates as recent years
PHOENIX — Since the school year started, Arizona has been hit with a rash of gun-related lockdowns and evacuations, but data suggests there hasn’t been a drastic increase in kids interacting with a gun.
The Arizona Youth Survey asked 51,448 kids in all 15 counties of the state in 8th, 10th and 12th grades how many times in the past year they had taken a handgun to school. In 2022, an average of 0.8% said they or a friend brought a gun to school at least once, while in 2020, that was 0.6%, and in 2018 it was 0.7%.
“A little higher, but still a very low number,” Andrew LeFevre, the executive director of the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, said. “A disturbing trend as three implementations can be looked, we’re seeing slightly higher numbers of students that have indicated they have taken a handgun to school.”
The survey then asked students how many times in the past year have they threatened, shot at or shot someone with a gun. In total, for 2022, 1.9% responded at least once, while in 2020, 1.6% of students responded and in 2018 2.5% responded.
For 2022, 9.4% of Arizona students said they had seen someone shot, shot at, or threatened with a gun at least once in the past year. That’s compared to 8.2% in 2020 and 9.9% in 2018.
When it comes to Arizona students seeing their friends bring guns to school, 7.1% reported seeing it happen at least once, compared to 8% in 2020 and 9.7% in 2018.
Lastly, the survey asked students how easy it would be for them to get a handgun, with 17.3% responding easy for 2022, 20.4% in 2020 and 20.7% in 2018.
“Those numbers are not consistent. They’re all kind of trending down slightly, but still higher than I think obviously we would probably like to see,” LeFevre said.
Lefevre adds the ups and downs between the numbers over the three implementations is most likely from the effects of COVID-19.
“I think what we’re seeing with these high-lower-higher numbers is probably the COVID effect to some degree with a number of students being at home during the 2020 implementation,” LeFevre said.
He also stressed when looking at the data, it’s important to take into account that a large part of the state is very rural, and gun use is more common in some areas than in the metro Phoenix area.
“The disturbing ones about seeing someone threatened or shot at with a gun, those are obviously numbers that we want to take a closer look at,” LeFevre said, “We want to help our communities and school partners take a closer look and try to determine if there’s something they can do to address those factors.”
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