Advertisement
This Sunday, March 29, 2015, file photo provided by the Jefferson Police Department shows a gun involved in the accidental shooting of a 3-year-old in Jefferson, Ga. Shootings kill or injure at least 19 U.S. children each day, with boys, teenagers and blacks most at risk, according to a government study that paints a bleak portrait of persistent violence. The analysis of 2002-14 U.S. data that involves children and teens through age 17 was published Monday, June 19, 2017, in the journal Pediatrics. (Photo: Jefferson Police Department via AP, File)

Firearms are the third-leading cause of death of U.S. children, taking approximately 1,300 lives annually and injuring another 6,000 each year.

More than half the deaths are homicides, in which the majority of victims are African-Americans. The vast majority of suicides take white lives, according to the study published in the journal Pediatrics today.

“Firearm injuries are an important public health problem, contributing substantially to premature death and disability of children,” said the American Academy of Pediatrics, the publisher of the journal, in a statement.

The data was taken from three sources: the National Vital Statistics System, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and the National Violent Death Reporting System, according to the researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 1,300 deaths were split up between homicides (53 percent of the deaths) and suicides (38 percent). The remainder were made up of unintentional deaths (6 percent), and 3 percent split between legal intervention and undetermined intent.

Some 56 percent of the homicide victims were black. The African-American firearm homicide rate per 100,000 people was 3.49 – about 10 times that of whites (0.35 per 100,000) and significantly greater than that of Hispanics (0.83 per 100,000).

The homicides showed a variety of motive and opportunity.

Younger children were less likely to be victims, but if they were killed, it was more likely to be at home and the crimes were generally tied to arguments and intimate partner violence, such as that between parents.

Teenagers became victims because another crime precipitated the violence, gang-related dealings and drug trade involvement, among other situations. These older children were killed in houses or apartments—but also as frequently on a street or sidewalk, or in an alleyway.

A vast majority of all the homicides were perpetrated using handguns.

The suicides were driven data-wise by white victims, at a rate of 81.9 percent. Most of them had crises in the past or upcoming within two weeks of the act, and had relationship problems with friends or intimate partners. Some had difficulties at school.

Some 82 percent of the firearm victims were male.

The overall firearm death rates per 100,000 people were greatest in Louisiana, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska.

A commentary assessing the results was published in the journal. Eliot Nelson writes that firearm deaths and injuries especially afflict teenagers, even when they become young adults.

“An even grimmer pictures appears if we extend the age range through the teenage years to age 19, because firearm injury rates rise steeply in late adolescence,” Nelson writes. “Among children and youth aged 1 to 19, firearms injuries accounted for over 14 percent of all deaths in 2015. So more than 1 of every 7 of children these ages who died of anything died of a gunshot wound.”

However, car crashes remain the biggest injury-related killer of children.

Advertisement
Advertisement