Can stricter gun laws reduce pediatric gun deaths?

July 16, 2019

A new study from Children’s National in Washington, DC, confirms that universal background checks and strict state laws are key to reducing the deaths of children and teenagers by firearms.

A new study from Children’s National in Washington, DC, confirms that universal background checks and strict state laws are key to reducing the deaths of children and teenagers by firearms.

The study used data from the web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System and Census, covering 2011 to 2015. The research authors looked at the strictness of firearm legislation by assigning a gun law score and the presence of 3 gun laws that had been linked to reducing overall deaths by firearm.

During the studied period, a total of 21,241 children died as a result of firearm-related injuries. Sixty-two percent of the deaths were a result of assault and suicide was the second most common cause of death by firearm. Most of the deaths happened in males and 66% happened in young adults aged 18 to 21 years.

When looking at the strictness of the gun laws, the researchers found that a 10-point increase in the strictness of gun legislation caused a 4% drop in firearm-related mortality rates among children and teenagers. States with laws requiring universal background checks to purchase a firearm that had been in effect for 5 years or more were found to reduce firearm-related mortality by 35%.

 

When announcing the study results, the authors stated that they believe an evidence-based public health approach, much like the one that reduced motor vehicle crash mortality through mandated seat belt legislation, could lead to fewer pediatric injuries and death because of firearms.