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U.S. Leads High-Income Countries in Child Gun Deaths

Friday, September 22, 2017By Richard Alexander

A study conducted by the American Journal of Medicine in 2016 reports Americans to be 10 times more likely to die from gun wounds than people in other countries. Of all the gun deaths of children under 14 in the countries studied, 91% occurred in the United States.

This falls quite in line with a June 2017 study published in the journal Pediatrics, which cites an average of 5,790 children getting medically treated for gunshot wounds each year (from 2012 to 2014) and roughly 1,297 children dying annually from a gun-related injury during the same period.

To reach these conclusions, researchers surveyed a plethora of data on fatal and non-fatal firearm injuries using the National Vital Statistics Systems and National Electronic Injury Surveillance System databases.

Their analysis of possible trends that may have cropped up from 2002 to 2014 led to these findings:

  • More than half the deaths were homicides (53%), followed by suicides (38%), unintentional deaths (6%), and a meager 3 percent related to law enforcement or undetermined.
  • Boys accounted for a disproportionate number of all firearm deaths (82%) and roughly 84% of all nonfatal firearm injuries.
  • Older children were 12 times more likely to be victims of firearm injuries than younger children.
  • African-American children represented the largest numbers of firearm homicides.
  • Of all the states, the greatest number of child deaths related to firearms occurred in the District of Columbia and Louisiana.

Some of the Primary Reasons for the Increase in Child Gun Deaths in the U.S.

  • Easy access and availability of firearms – Fueled by a widespread gun culture in the US, many families find it the norm to own a gun. Last surveyed, this number stands at 35%, as per a 2014 Pew Research Center survey. What is interesting to note is that most parents (39%) mistakenly believe their children don’t know where their guns are stashed, or even if their children have played with the guns. It is no wonder that 85 percent of younger children were killed at home, according to the pediatrics study.
  • Lack of legal enforcement pertaining to gun securement – In the US, only about 14 states mandate by law that guns be kept in a way that keeps them away from children. Unfortunately, these laws are rarely enforced, despite children dying from gun incidents.
  • Chronic emotional distress, mental health problems and/or relationship problems were found to be responsible for a large percent of gun suicides committed by children under 18. In this scenario, it is essential that parents develop nurturing relationships with their children, and try to help them cope with their often impulsive feelings.
  • Spousal violence in which children accidentally become “collateral victims”.
  • Gang-related crimes, drug and weapon involvement are some other reasons why children, especially the older ones, become victims of firearm homicides.

While there are other interconnected reasons behind these huge numbers of child gun deaths, it is established that firearm injuries are a significant public health problem in the U.S.

While not all gun deaths can be controlled, one way forward is to initiate a dialogue between public health experts and parents on how to prevent child gun deaths through safe gun storage and building relationships with children so as to detect any possible signs of suicide.

The San Francisco attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP represent people who have been injured by the negligence of others. Our goal is to help our clients and their families receive proper compensation for their pain and suffering. You can reach one of our San Francisco personal injury attorneys at 888.777.1776, or you can contact us online.

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