On May 25, 2022, a gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers inside an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The timing of this horrific tragedy coincides with a new study co-authored by Dr. Andrew Kiragu, a critical care physician at Children’s Minnesota, that reveals guns are now the leading cause of death among kids 0-19 years old in the United States. The report – titled, Addressing the void: firearm injury prevention in the USA – was published this week in the medical journal: The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.
In the study, Dr. Kiragu and his co-authors reference data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in 2022. The CDC says that firearms have overtaken motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death among kids ages 0-19 due to an 83% increase in firearm fatalities since 2013, and a 51% decrease in vehicle fatalities since 2000.
The study also shows deep racial and ethnic disparities among kids between 0 to 19 years old who are wounded or killed by guns in the US. Dr. Kiragu and his team reported that:
- In 2020, Black, non-Hispanic adolescent boys between 15 to 19 years old died by firearm homicide at a rate that was 21-times higher than white, non-Hispanic boys.
- Over the past two decades, an estimated 136,292 firearm injuries occurred among Black, non-Hispanic kids and teens – while 45,525 firearm injuries occurred among white, non-Hispanic kids and teens.
“The medical community and society at large should not conclude that having firearms as the leading killer of young people in the USA is inevitable – much less acceptable,” Dr. Kiragu and his co-authors wrote in the study. “The absence of injury prevention interventions must be addressed with measures concentrated on addressing firearms with a multi-pronged public health approach focused on science and interventions. We must also acknowledge and address the health inequities related to firearm homicides. We know that a public health approach is an essential component of the efforts to reduce firearm injuries and deaths, and now we must fully commit to preventing them.”