The Legal Effect of a Record of Delinquency Adjudication on Firearm Access: A Typology of State Statutes and Policies
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
Gun-related violence and suicide in the United States are serious public health problems that are concentrated among young adults, especially those under age 30. The small subgroup of young people with a history of juvenile delinquency and crime are at even higher risk of firearm injury and mortality, due to trauma experience, substance abuse, and other determinants of violence and self-injurious behavior that tend to correlate with early justice involvement. In this light, state policy makers have grappled with the question of whether, and to what extent, a record of juvenile crime or delinquency should restrict an adult’s legal eligibility to purchase and possess firearms. State laws vary widely in minimum age of lawful firearm access, types of juvenile offending that may preclude or delay such access, and available mechanisms to regain firearm access. This article presents an exploratory typology of state statutes clarifying the variation in legal approaches to this important problem and grouping states with similar laws affecting firearm access for juveniles who have been adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a crime. Associations between these patterns and relevant state characteristics are explored.