Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Kids and Guns

Category: Child Care


At the recent American Academy of Pediatrics convention there was a lot of talk about the need for better prevention of deaths and suffering from gunshots in children. The Educational Fund to End Handgun Violence shared many scary statistics at the convention. One in every eight deaths in children from age ten to fourteen results from firearms. One in every four deaths in teenagers fifteen to nineteen results from firearms. Sixty percent of deaths in black teenage males aged fifteen to nineteen result from firearms injuries and in twenty-three percent of white teenage males aged 15 to 19. Eighty-two percent of homicides among teens occur from firearms and over 100 black males age 15 to 19 die from firearms for every 100,000 population compared to over 119 black males compared to 26.6 per whites of the same age group. That means that the black firearm homicide rate is about 11 times higher than whites. Firearms are the second leading cause of death for all youth aged 10 to 19, second only to motor vehicle injury fatalities.

About 3,000 homicide deaths occurred in youths 19 and under last year and close to two thousand suicides in that group. Just about every two hours a child dies from firearms, or about 13 per day in America. Approximately 100,000 students bring guns to school every day in America. These statistics are very frightening and convince me that we must make it harder for young people to get guns and we must require some sort of training for anyone who registers or carries a gun. It is a sad when children are bringing guns to school instead of books and food. I agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Educational Fund to End Handgun Violence in promoting gun safety legislation. We need a general attitude change throughout society to stop the tremendous number of deaths in children and spinal cord injuries and long term suffering in children and adults from guns.

The majority of the homicides and suicides were by handguns although many drive-by shootings with rifles cause deaths in children in our inner cities daily. The rate of rise in homicide which was over 15% in 1989 is even beating out the scary rate in the rise of Hiv which is about 10%.

The average cost of a gunshot wound is about $7,000. Close to 90% of the cost of gunshot wounds ends up being paid by government sources, which means all of us taxpayers. The entire cost for some individuals with quadriplegia secondary to gunshot wounds might reach a million dollars. It is felt that the overall cost of firearms injury in America to America's health care system is greater than 4 billion dollars according to statistics shared by the 1991 Advisory Council on Social Security. It is time that we all take a stand toward common sense registering and selling and demand proper training of anyone who legally purchases a gun.