In the United States approximately 30 000 people die from firearm injuries each year. Many more are wounded. In the mid 1980s, more than 3000 of the dead were children and adolescents aged 1 to 19 years.1 In 1989 nearly 4000 firearm deaths were among children 1 to 19 years of age, accounting for 12% of all deaths in that age group.2 All of these deaths or injuries affect other children because the victims who are killed or wounded are frequently relatives, neighbors, or friends.
Comparison data for childhood age groups demonstrate that in 1987, 203 children aged 1 to 9 years, 484 children aged 10 to 14 years, and 2705 adolescents aged 15 to 19 years died as a result of firearm injuries.1 Firearm deaths include unintentional injuries, homicides, and suicides. Among the 1- to 9-year-olds, half of the deaths were homicides and half were unintentional. Among the 10- to 14-year-olds, one third of the deaths were homicides, one third were suicides, and one third were unintentional. Among the 15- to 19-year-olds, 48% were homicides, 42% were suicides, and 8% were unintentional.1
Firearm homicides are the leading cause of death for some US subpopulations, such as urban black male adolescents and young adults.3 Table 1 indicates how firearms contributed to the deaths of children and adolescents (homicides, suicides, and all causes) in 1987. Table 2 illustrates the unusual scale of firearm violence affecting young people in the United States compared with other developed nations.4 Firearm injuries are the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury deaths to children younger than 15 years of age in the US.5
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics