Child gun-related deaths twice as common in US states with lax gun laws, new study suggests

A child is 82 times more likely to die of a firearm injury in the US than in any other developed nation.

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Gun-related injuries are the second-leading cause of death for children in the United States, a new study found.

On Friday, the Stanford University of Medicine released a study discovering gun-related deaths among children and teenagers were twice as common in states with the most lax firearm laws than those with strict gun control.

For the study, researchers used data from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention on gun-related deaths from 2014 to 2015 on people ages 0 to 19 years old. They used the data to cross-examine with 2014 data on gun control legislation from the Brady Scores, which is used to examine the “stringency” of gun control laws, and from the Child Access Prevention (CAP).

The study also took gun laws in all 50 states into account. The researchers then assessed states that implemented and enforced child firearm access prevention laws, and categorised them into two different groups: laws requiring safe storage for guns and laws placing liability on adults for failing to prevent gun access from minors.

Based on the data collected, the researchers discovered that approximately 2,715 children die from firearm injuries every year. About 62.1 per cent of those deaths were from homicide and 31.4 per cent from suicides.

"A child is 82 times more likely to die in our country of a firearm injury than in any other developed nation," Stephanie Chao, MD, a senior author of the report, and Stanford’s assistant professor of surgery, told the Medical Express. "We focus a lot on the federal government and the things they can do to protect our children from firearms. But our study shows that what states do at the state level really does have an impact."

According to the study, not taking the socioeconomic factors into account, the 2014 Brady score found states with the strictest gun laws had about 2.4 per gun-related deaths per 100,000 minors. In states with the most relaxed gun laws, however, the mortality rate nearly doubled with 5.0 gun-related deaths per 100,000. When it came to states with child access prevention laws, researchers found that gun-related suicide rates among were at .63 per year per 100,000 minors. That rate skyrocketed to 2.57 per 100,000 for states without child access prevention legislation. When taking socioeconomic factors into account for both of these scores, the study still noticed a significant gap in the gun-related mortality rates.

The report comes on the heels of a fatal high school shooting in North Carolina that left a 16-year-old dead. So far, there has been a total of 297 mass shootings in the US. Over 20 over them took place in schools, averaging at about one school shooting per week. The rising trend of school shootings have become a significant concern for American youth. On Thursday, the American Psychological Association released findings from a poll they conducted with Americans between the ages of 15 to 21. It reported that 75 per cent and 72 per cent said mass shootings and school shootings were a significant source of stress respectively.

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It doesn't have to be this way though. Based on their findings, Stanford researchers came to the conclusion that state-level gun control, or prevention, laws could effectively reduce the number of gun-related deaths among children and teens.

"If you put more regulations on firearms, it does make a difference," Ms Chao added. "It does end up saving children's lives."

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