Firearm deaths among US youth increased 30 pct over the past decade: Report

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Firearms were the leading cause of death among children in the US in 2020, a new study finds, as new reports of tragic gun violence incidents against US youth become more common, representing a sobering picture that validates the need for reformed gun laws.

The new study by New Mexico State University and the University of Toledo found that gun death rates per 100,000 American children increased by 30 percent between 2010 and 2019.

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Death by suicide among US children also rose by 63 percent during the 10-year timeframe.

The study, one of the few that examines firearm mortality rates by state, also identified rate increases among children across a number of categories. Female gun deaths increase by 46 percent, non-Hispanic Whites by 45 percent, and non-Hispanic Blacks by 36 percent.

“The significant differences in the state-by-state data provide an opportunity for states with high mortality rates to evaluate the policies in low mortality states. This comparison has the potential to reduce the trajectory of increasing gun deaths,” said the study’s co-author James Price from the University of Toledo in a statement.

Most previous studies analyzed the number of deaths across the country for a limited period of time, usually without taking into consideration differences in deaths by state, region, race, age, or mechanism of deaths (e.g. homicide or suicide).

The states that saw a 70 percent increase in child-related gun violence included: South Carolina, Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Kansas, Texas, and Indiana.

“Four of these states do not have child access prevention laws and two have weak laws,” said Price.

The researchers said that the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California did not record an upward trend in gun violence against children, indicating that their strong gun laws played an important role in restricting access to firearms.

The authors said their findings pointed to a pattern.

“The message is clear: States with more guns have more gun homicides, suicides, and unintentional deaths. States with strong laws that limit access have fewer gun deaths. While solutions proposed by most legislators show a lack of knowledge about the research in this area, we hope the leaders of the 26 states with increased firearm mortality will take heed of these findings,” Price said, adding that better access to mental health resources and better storage of firearms by adults was necessary to mitigate child suicides.

“More than 10 children die of firearms in communities every day, most taking place away from schools. We must address the problem at a broader level, with a more comprehensive approach to policies, prevention practices, and clinical interventions,” said co-author Jagdish Khubchandani from New Mexico State University.

The study, published by Elsevier, appears in the American Journal of Medicine Open.

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