This study examines the role of maltreatment in weapon carrying among 12-year-old youth (N = 797) interviewed as part of the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN), an ongoing study of the antecedents and consequences of child maltreatment. Participants reported their physical and sexual abuse history and provided responses to items assessing perceived need for a weapon and weapon carrying. There were no gender differences in rates of self-reported physical or sexual abuse. Males were more likely than females to report weapon carrying and perceived need for a weapon. A mediation analysis was conducted to examine the mediating effect of perceived need for a weapon on the association between abuse and weapon carrying. Results indicated that perceived need for a weapon fully mediated the effect of physical abuse and partially mediated the effect of sexual abuse. Results are discussed in the context of self-protection theory. © 2007 Sage Publications.