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Firearm Availability and Unintentional Firearm Deaths, Suicide and Homicide Among 5-14 Year Olds

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Publication Date: February 2002

Publisher(s): Journal of Trauma

Author(s): Matthew Miller, MD, MPH, ScD; Deborah Azrael, MS; David Hemenway, PhD


Special Collection: The Joyce Foundation

Topic: Health (Mental health)
Population and demographics (Children and youth)
Social conditions (Safety and security)

Keywords: gun violence; youth homicides; minors ; suicides

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


In the United States, only motor vehicle crashes and cancer claim more lives among children than do firearms. This national study attempts to determine whether firearm prevalence is related to rates of unintentional firearm deaths, suicides, and homicides among children. Using data from 1988 -1997, this study estimates the association between the rate of violent deaths among 5-14 year olds and four proxies of firearm availability across states and regions.
It finds that a statistically significant association exists between gun availability and the rates of unintentional firearm deaths, homicides, and suicides. The elevated rates of suicide and homicide among children living in states with more guns is not entirely explained by a state's poverty, education, or urbanization and is driven by lethal firearm violence, not by lethal non-firearm violence.
It concludes that a disproportionately high number of 5-14 year olds died from suicide, homicide, and unintentional firearm deaths in states and regions where guns were more prevalent.