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Gun-related deaths of US children are rising at ‘alarming’ rate, study reveals

A new study by researchers at Boston Children’s hospital found children’s gun-related deaths have surged over the past decade, increasing by 87%.

Researchers analyzed data on fatal and non-fatal shooting injuries from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) injury reporting system, finding deadly wound rates increased from nearly 14 deaths per 100,000 children in 2011 to more than 17 deaths per 100,000 in 2021.

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Additionally, the data shows firearm fatalities were the leading cause of accidental death in children.

“Recent trends in pediatric injury-related fatalities are alarming,with increases in homicides, suicides and poisonings in the past decade,” the study noted.

In 2021, 2,590 children died due to firearm injuries compared to 1,311 in 2011, according to the study published in the medical journal Pediatrics.

Non-fatal injuries overall decreased by over half during the same period, with a 47% drop in those involving motor vehicles. The study analyzed fatal and non-fatal injury trends among children in order to provide a more accurate prediction of general trends in pediatric injuries to help further develop preventive measures.

“The increase in pediatric injury-related deaths preceded the Covid-19 pandemic, though the pandemic exacerbated numerous factors underlying this disturbing trend, including access to lethal means, such as firearms and opioids, the mental health crisis and structural racism,” Dr Rebekah Mannix, a co-author on the study, said in an email to ABC News. “In this way, the increase in deaths in 2020 to 2021 is an amplified trend that has been creeping up on us for the last decade.”

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The study comes as a spate of mass shootings in the US has led to calls, especially among political progressives, for substantial gun control.

The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as one that wounds or kills at least four victims. The nonpartisan resource has recorded more than 500 mass shootings in the US so far in 2023, a rate of more than one a day.

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According to the CDC’s Wonder database, 2,279 firearm homicides were recorded in 2021 victimizing children and teens ages one to 18, twice the number of deaths recorded a decade earlier. More homicides and suicides involving children were recorded in 2021 than in any year since 1999, in fact.

A recent report by Everytown for Gun Safety found that states with the most protective gun storage laws had lowered gun suicide rates among children and young adults ages 10 to 24 in 2022 compared with 1999. Meanwhile, states with the weakest gun safety laws experienced a 39% increase in gun suicide rates over the past two decades, the report found.

About half of suicides among children ages 10 to 17 years old involve firearms, and more than 4.5 million children in the US live in homes where at least one gun is loaded and not properly secured, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

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