Contact: Paul Marchione, (202) 546-0200
Gun Accidents, Suicides Increase Among Kids
Recently Released National Data Show 21% Increase Among Certain Ages;
Common Sense Safety Tips Can Save Lives
DC -- Though overall firearm deaths are down nationwide, an analysis of gun
accidents and suicides among kids shows that within certain age groups there
were startling increases.
greatest increases were among 5-9 year olds, where the number of accidental
firearm deaths increased 21% and among 10-14 year olds, where there was a 21%
increase in the number of firearm suicides.
findings were reported by Victoria Reggie Kennedy, president of the
non-political gun safety and gun violence prevention organization Common
Sense about Kids and Guns, on the one-year anniversary of the group’s
highlighted national mortality statistics from the CDC’s National Center for
Health Statistics that showed how overall firearm deaths for children and teens
(0-19) were down 10% in 1998, but non-homicide firearm deaths (i.e. accidents
and suicides) only declined 4% from 1997 to 1998 (from 1,643 to 1,577). Common Sense, which focuses on
parental responsibility for preventing kids’ unsupervised access to guns,
pointed out that in non-homicide categories, especially among younger kids,
there were actually increases:
For kids under 15, non-homicide firearm deaths
increased 4% (from 283 to 295).
Among 5-9 year olds, accidental firearm deaths
increased 21% (28 to 34).
Among 10-14 year olds, firearm suicides increased
21% (126 to 153).
while many have lauded the overall decrease in gun deaths among children and
teens,” Kennedy pointed out, “the increase of gun accidents and suicides is
troubling. In 1998, one child or teen
was killed in a firearm-related accident or suicide every five-and-a-half
hours. And the reality is that many,
many of these accidents and suicides were preventable, if parents and other
responsible adults in these children’s lives had used common sense in the way
they stored their firearm.”
exaggeration, the way a gun is stored can be a matter of life and death for our
children. Tragedies occur daily involving unlocked firearms easily
accessible to young people either at their own homes or the home of a relative
or neighbor. As adults, we must take action to prevent these
tragedies from ever happening again.”
cited other national research which showed that 40% of households with children
under 18 report having at least one firearm in the house, with 25% of those
firearms being stored either loaded or unlocked. Nationwide, there are 1.2 million latch key children who return
every afternoon to a home with no parent and an unsecured firearm. And approximately 75% of all firearm-related
accidents and suicides involving children and teens are
committed with a firearm found at home, or the home of a relative or friend.
foremost,” Kennedy advised, “before bringing a gun into our homes, we must
consider all of the circumstances unique to our own
families. Do children live in or visit
our home? Does someone in the family
abuse drugs or alcohol? Is someone
depressed or prone to violence or abuse?
The risk of death or injury to children is so significant that the
American Academy of Pediatrics stresses the most effective way to prevent
firearm-related deaths and injuries to children and adolescents is not having
guns in the home. The Sporting Arms and
Ammunitions Manufacturers, Inc., the leading trade association representing gun
manufacturers, also says that firearm ownership is not for everyone and comes with
a great responsibility.”
about Kids and Guns has developed six simple safety tips that have been
endorsed by organizations from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign to the National
Shooting Sport Foundation. So whether
or not someone decides to keep a gun at home, Common Sense urges all
adults to follow these steps to protect kids from gun deaths and injuries:
All gun owners must:
and lock up their guns;
and store ammunition separately; and
keys where kids are unable to find them.
All parents must:
if guns are safely stored at places their kids visit or play;
with their kids about guns; and
teach young children not to touch guns and to tell an
adult if they find one.
are many complex issues that lead to gun violence in our society, and we must address
those issues in a serious way,” Kennedy said as she concluded. “But in the meantime, we must take the
common sense steps necessary to keep our children safe. Remember: The child you save could be your
information on this topic, go to the Common Sense about Kids and Guns website
at http://www.kidsandguns.org or call
# # #
ATTENTION EDITORS AND JOURNALISTS: To
arrange an interview with Mrs. Kennedy, please call Common Sense about Kids and
Guns’ Chief of Staff Paul Marchione at 202-546-0200.
Additional information, including photos and graphics, is
available online at www.kidsandguns.org/entryhall/pressroom.asp.
Source information on all data can be found