Half as many children die from firearm injuries in states with strict gun control laws

ORLANDO, Fla. — Areas in the United States where gun control laws are the strictest see substantially fewer children die from firearm-related injuries when adjusted for other factors in child mortality such as socioeconomic status and education, research shows.

The study highlights stark differences in the number of children being hospitalized or killed by firearm injuries. About twice as many children are killed by firearms in parts of the country with the most lax gun control laws, researchers found.

The authors used data from the National Vital Statistics System, which is kept and maintained by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics. They then cross-referenced regional injury data with the traditional Brady Scorecard, which rates gun law stringency by state.

In addition to the stringency of state gun control laws, the stringency of neighboring state gun control laws made a difference in gun-related injuries to children. Laws specific to making guns inaccessible or unusable to and by children resulted in dramatic decreases in child suicide rates by firearm.

“Firearm-related injuries are the second leading cause of death among children in the United States, but we found a clear discrepancy in where those deaths happen that corresponds with the strength of states’ firearm legislation,” notes lead author Dr. Stephanie Chao, Trauma Medical Director and Assistant Professor of Pediatric Surgery at Stanford School of Medicine, in a media release by the American Academy of Pediatrics. “In states with lenient laws, children die at alarmingly greater rates.”

States with higher Brady scores, mostly in the West and Northwest part of the country, had 7.54 gun-related child injuries per 100,000 children. States with lower Brady scores, mostly concentrated in the Midwest and South, had 8.3 injuries per 100,000 children.

“Each year, more children die from firearm-related injuries than from cancer and heart disease combined,” says Dr. Chao. “However, each and every one of these deaths is preventable. Our study demonstrates that state-level legislation prevents children from dying from guns.”

Dr. Taylor and her team presented this research at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2018 National Conference & Exhibition.