- AAP —
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- NVDRS —
- National Violent Death Reporting System
The absence of guns from children’s homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents. Adolescent suicide risk is strongly associated with firearm availability. Safe gun storage (guns unloaded and locked, ammunition locked separately) reduces children’s risk of injury. Physician counseling of parents about firearm safety appears to be effective, but firearm safety education programs directed at children are ineffective. The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to support a number of specific measures to reduce the destructive effects of guns in the lives of children and adolescents, including the regulation of the manufacture, sale, purchase, ownership, and use of firearms; a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons; and the strongest possible regulations of handguns for civilian use.
Scope of the Problem
Although rates have declined since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued the original policy statement in 1992, firearm-related deaths continue as 1 of the top 3 causes of death in American youth.1 As shown in Fig 1, the firearm-associated death rate among youth ages 15 to 19 has fallen from its peak of 27.8 deaths per 100 000 in 1994 to 11.4 per 100 000 in 2009, driven by a decline in firearm homicide rates.1 No single study has adequately explained the decline in firearm-related homicide rates. Postulated reasons include improved socioeconomic conditions, violence prevention programs, decline in the crack/cocaine market, changes in legislation, declines in firearms availability for other reasons, and community policing. Nevertheless, firearm-associated death and disability rates remain unacceptably high.