The gun control debate won’t be solved anytime soon, but in the meantime, researchers are doing their best to grasp how restrictive gun laws may or may not make a difference in reducing suicides, homicides, and mass shootings.

One new study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, found that more restrictive gun laws resulted in a lower rate of young people carrying guns. The researchers reviewed data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which contains information about students grades 9-12 from 2007, 2009, and 2011. Any kid who had carried a gun at least once in the past 30 days was considered a youth gun carrier. The researchers compared the incidence of youth gun carrying with the level of restrictions in gun laws across different states — rating the restrictive environment from 0 to 100 points.

They found that different states had significantly varying degrees of restriction, with the lowest (1.3) in Utah and the highest (79.7) in California. Thirty-eight states had data on youth gun carrying; among them, the state with the lowest prevalence of youth gun carrying (1.4 percent) was New Jersey and the highest (11 percent) was Wyoming.

The researchers conclude that quite simply, the data suggests that gun control can prevent young, possibly reckless or impulsive people from carrying guns.

“Gun violence poses a substantial public health threat to adolescents in the United States,” the authors wrote. “Existing evidence points to the need for policies to reduce gun carrying among youth.”

They also point out that every year between 1999 to 2013, an average of 15,000 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19 died, and the three major causes were unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide. Eighty-three percent of homicides were gun-related, and 45 percent of suicides involved a gun. Researchers are still trying to figure out how much of this gun violence can be mitigated by bolder gun laws, but one recent study provides evidence that it does. The study pinpointed a link between gun licensing laws in Connecticut and lower suicide rates in that state.

“We find that the strength of gun policies including both adult-focused and youth-focused policies is inversely associated with youth gun carrying,” the authors said. “These findings are relevant to gun policy debates about the critical importance of comprehensive state-level gun law environment to prevent youth gun carrying.”

Source: Xuan Z, Hemenway D. State Gun Law Environment and Youth Gun Carrying in the United States. JAMA Pediatrics. 2015.