Fewer kids die from guns in states with stricter gun laws

Fewer kids die from guns in states with stricter gun laws

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Researchers analyzed firearm deaths by state between 2011 and 2015 among kids and young people up to age 21. More than 21,000 youth perished from guns during that period. That's about seven gun-related deaths a day, according to the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

The study authors compared each state's pediatric firearm death rate with the rigorousness of its gun laws, ranked on a 1 to 100 scale by the nonprofit Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

They found that:

  • States with the strictest gun laws had the lowest rate of children and young people dying from guns.
  • For every 10-point increase in the strictness of the state's firearm laws, child mortality rates dropped 4 percent.
  • States that had required background checks for at least the past five years in order to purchase a gun had a 35 percent lower rate of gun deaths among kids and young people, compared to states that didn't meet that criteria.
  • The findings held true even in states with high rates of firearm ownership.

Gun injuries are the second leading cause of death for children and teens in the United States (the first is car accidents). American kids and teens die from guns at a much higher rate than those in other industrialized countries, which tend to have much stricter gun laws. Sadly, deaths from guns have been on the rise in the U.S. since 2013.

Previous studies have also found that tighter gun laws appear to reduce gun deaths overall, although this study focused exclusively on young people.

To reduce child gun deaths, lawmakers should enact gun laws based on evidence, the authors concluded. One law probably isn't enough. Instead, states likely need multiple laws that work together to keep children and teens safe from gun violence, they wrote.

Obviously, gun regulations are a contentious issue in American politics. Nevertheless, the study authors pointed out that legislators have successfully managed to protect children from other dangers – such as car accidents and secondhand smoke exposure – by enacting evidence-based laws and policies.

Concerned about gun safety in your own home or neighborhood? Read more about how to teach your child about gun safety, and using gun locks if you have a gun at home, as well as how to ask about guns in the house when your child is visiting a friend.

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