Descriptive Epidemiology Of Firearm Injury In US Children Published
Firearm Injury A Plague
Approximately 19 children a day die or are medically treated for a
gunshot wound in an Emergency Department in the US. That is one of the
sobering statistics to be found in the twin publication of a new
report and a commentary on firearm injury published in Pediatrics.
authors, Katherine Fowler and colleagues at CDC and Sarah
Bacon at the University of Texas, Austin, of the report call it
the most comprehensive examination of current firearm-related deaths
and injuries among children in the United States to date. An
accompanying commentary by Eliot Nelson from the University of
Vermont, asserts that 1 out of every 7 children age 1 to 19 who died
of anything died of a gunshot wound—homicide, suicide, or
unintentional firearm injury. It is the third leading cause of death
among all children 1 to 17. Stated bluntly, firearm injury is “an all
too common way of death for children and youth in the United States.”
Stated succinctly, “firearm injury is a plague,” according to the
- On average, nearly 1300 children (1297) died each year in the US
between 2012-2014 and 5,790 were treated for gunshot wounds
- Firearm related deaths are the third leading cause of death overall
in children 1-17 and the second leading cause of injury related death
(behind only car crashes).
- Some 91% of firearm deaths of children 0-14 years among all high
income countries worldwide occur in the US.
- Homicides accounted for 53%, suicides for 38%, unintentional firearm
deaths for 6%, legal intervention or undetermined intent for 3% of
firearm deaths between 2012-2014
- Firearm homicide death rates are highest in the District of Columbia
and in Louisiana.
- The majority of these children described above are boys 13-17,
African American in the case of firearm homicide, and white and
American Indian in the case of firearm suicide.
-Homicide rates have decreased in recent time periods while suicide
rates have been on an upward trend.
-Firearm homicides tend to occur at higher rates in the south and
parts of the Midwest.
the community level, prevention efforts called for in the commentary
are child access prevention laws and comprehensive background check
requirements which have been shown to reduce certain types of firearm
deaths. Finally, the commentary states “the underfunding of research
on gun violence remains inexcusable; we must continue to demand
support commensurate to the policy brief on on firearm violence
prevention currently in preparation by the International Joint Policy
Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology is expected to address this
research deficit. ■