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In the News

Gun Accidents, Suicides Increase Among Kids
Common Sense about Kids and Guns Press Release, 10/11/2000

Contact: Paul Marchione, (202) 546-0200
paulm@kidsandguns.org

Gun Accidents, Suicides Increase Among Kids

Recently Released National Data Show 21% Increase Among Certain Ages;
Common Sense Safety Tips Can Save Lives

Washington, 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.

The 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.

These 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 founding.

Common Sense 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:

ü   For kids under 15, non-homicide firearm deaths increased 4% (from 283 to 295).
ü   Among 5-9 year olds, accidental firearm deaths increased 21% (28 to 34).
ü   Among 10-14 year olds, firearm suicides increased 21% (126 to 153).

“So 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.”

Without any 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.”

Kennedy 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. 

“First and 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.”

Common Sense 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:
ü      unload and lock up their guns;
ü      lock and store ammunition separately; and
ü      keep keys where kids are unable to find them.

All parents must:
ü      ask if guns are safely stored at places their kids visit or play;
ü      talk with their kids about guns; and
ü      teach young children not to touch guns and to tell an adult if they find one. 

“There 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 own.”

For more information on this topic, go to the Common Sense about Kids and Guns website at http://www.kidsandguns.org or call (877) 955-KIDS.

 

# # #

 

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 at www.kidsandguns.org/study/fact_file.asp.

 


Please note: Common Sense and its endorsing organizations do not necessarily endorse all content stemming from the links provided in this page.  All resources in these web pages are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. Advice and opinions on mental health and other medical issues should be obtained through consultation with a licensed and trained professional.


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