America’s mad love affair with guns cost 3143 children their lives in just twelve months. A total of 3143 children and adolescents died of a gunshot wound In the United States in 2016, a new tally of childhood deaths has found.
These children accounted for 15.4 per cent of all those Americans between 1 and 19 who died in 2016, and a quarter of all those killed by injury rather than disease.
As they inch their way back to rates last seen in 1999, childhood deaths attributed to firearms generated 70 per cent more grieving families than those produced by paediatric cancer (1853) in 2016.
Guns also created more than three times as many bereft families than did childhood drownings (995).
A child’s poisoning death or fatal drug overdose broke the hearts of 982 families in 2016. A gun devastated three times as many families by taking a child’s life.
The figures – the latest and most comprehensive accounting of childhood deaths available – were published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. They were compiled by a team from the University of Michigan.
The number of children who died of a gunshot wound intentionally inflicted by someone else in 2016 – 1865 – came in just ahead of the total number of childhood deaths attributed to birth defects, heart disease and chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma combined:1852.
The number of children or adolescents who took their own lives with a gun – 1102 – represents half of all children and adolescents who died by suicide in 2016.
Childhood deaths caused by a firearm in 2016 were exceeded only by those caused by motor vehicle crashes (4074).
Although there’s been a worrisome rise in such fatalities since 2013, safety improvements and drunken driving initiatives have steadily driven the paediatric toll of vehicle accidents to roughly half their 1999 rate.
At 4.02 per 100,000 children, the 2016 rate of childhood firearms deaths stands at half the rate of paediatric gun deaths (8.12 per 100,000) seen at their most recent peak, in 1993. But that decline has since stalled.
The 2016 rate represents a reduction of less than 10 per cent from rates seen in 1999.
Between 2013 and 2016, the rate of gun-related deaths among children in the US grew 28 per cent. That upward trend in firearm mortality reflected a 32 per cent increase in the rates of firearm homicide and a 26 per cent increase in the rate of youth suicides carried out with a gun.
“Children in America are dying or being killed at rates that are shameful,” wrote Dr Edward W. Campion in an editorial published alongside the report.
“The United States is clearly not effectively protecting its children.”
The rate of childhood deaths caused by guns in the US was more than 36 times as high as the rate seen in 12 other high-income countries.