Firearms are the leading cause of death for American children. But, like any public health problem, the risk is not equally distributed. Who is dying, how, and where? Here are the epidemiological patterns, which can help parents and communities move the needle.
Safe storage is communism. A free society just shrugs when children’s brains are splattered all over the blackboard.
Trans people doing women’s sports? A book on Rosa Parks? Apocalypse!
We will protect children from Democrat pedophiles while ensuring we do nothing to keep their brains being splattered all over the blackboard every couple of weeks.
It’s what Jesus would do.
The Republican Party
When studying suicide in children, unfortunately most epidemiology looks at the factors immediately surrounding the tragic event. Nonetheless there is strong evidence (Association of Childhood Maltreatment With Suicide Behaviors Among Young People A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, Ioannis Angelakis, Jennifer L. Austin, Patricia Gooding, JAMA Network Open. 2020;3(8):e2012563. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.12563) that children who have experienced abuse and neglect trauma are up to 4X more likely to commit suicide than other children. Prevention in the largely hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect MUST be high on any list of interventions.
I have been aware of these stats for years, and it is so frustrating because both politicians and average people don't believe them and say they will be safer with a gun in their house. I live in a state that is near the top of the list of gun restrictions, yet our regulations are still pretty lax. We enacted a safe storage law if there are children in the house in my county only a few years ago
I know when I lobby legislators on issues related to my profession we are told to use stories, not statistics, to grab the legislator's attention and get movement. It works in my field, but neither stories nor stats seem to work related to gun issues. The stories are everywhere, and the stats are stunning. Any ideas on approaches that might work, either with people in our lives or legislators?
I deeply appreciate your courage in publishing this article. Gun violence IS a public health issue with many contributing factors and much disagreement on how best to approach it. However, safe storage and red flag laws work. My aunt wouldn’t have died as the result of gun violence had either been in affect where she lived. I’ve shared your posts throughout COVID and I’m sharing these as well. Thank you.
Is there data on improved outcomes when guns are simply not in the home? Stored at a firing range or elsewhere?
I'm glad you emphasized safe storage; that's a policy that could get support across the political spectrum. There are some 400 million guns in America; any law attempting to limit legal access is grand standing. It will only impact law abiding citizens; the bad guys don't obey the laws anyway.
There used to be lots of blasting caps lying around, when I was a kid. Kids were maimed and killed, about 500 a year in the late 1920s, said one government report. As a country, we fixed that. We tightened up A LOT on explosives management, ran PSAs often on TV and other media (for years, at the industry's expense), and put stiff penalties in place for sloppy control.
And now it's rare as can be. Whaddayaknow.
It shouldn't be so hard to figure out what worked, and do it.
"There’s a 1 in 3 chance your kid is going to a friend’s house where there are firearms." Incredible
Any compelling reason deaths before birth are not included in your discussion of needless deaths?
It is my interpretation of the second amendment that citizens are assured the means to resist tyrannical governments. After President Obama used the IRS to target conservatives (and I am one, obviously} and continuing with the seemingly willful of suppressing of free speech this is a major concern for me.
Regrettably there are so many guns already present in our society that restricting access now may not change statistics for several generations. Meanwhile human activity on the planet, especially the results of exploiting natural resources for decadent pleasure by the very few, and the looming results of our very heavy debt/continued borrowing may prove a more urgent threat.
Not that much sapiens in Homo.
YLE, as is often the case, your post is stunningly good. It's based on strong evidence, well reasoned, and clearly presented.
In a follow-along post, I've made a demographic connection that I consider important: Kids with disabilities are a demonstrably more vulnerable population. Those of us who are concerned about them should pay special heed to your post.
Thanks for another (ahem) killer contribution.
John Wills Lloyd, Ph.D.
UVA Professor Emeritus
Founder & Editor, https://www.SpecialEducationToday.com/
Co-editor, Exceptional Children
The study you cited regarding safe storage of guns had this as the conclusion: "There is evidence that CAP laws are associated with a modest reduction in suicide rates among youth aged 14 to 17 years. As currently implemented, minimum age restrictions for the purchase and possession of firearms do not appear to reduce overall rates of suicide among youth."
The problem with these laws is locking up your guns means you don't have access to them immediately when needed - like when somebody has broken into your house and you need to quickly defend yourself. You might find yourself nervously trying to undo a combination lock while an armed criminal approaches telling you to get away from that gun locker.
Making guns very hard to access for young children is a great idea, but it can be done without locking up the guns. Young children don't realize how dangerous guns are. Just put them hidden away on a high shelf that a young child cannot reach.
But to deny quick access to a gun just because a 14-17 year old child might visit your home, find a gun and then use it to commit suicide is not a good enough reason for a law requiring all guns to be locked up. Most 14-17 year old children are not interested in killing themselves.
I'm in favor of strict enforcement of all the gun laws we have now. But with the current permissive ideas of progressive district attorneys and other prosecutors, that's likely not happening. Their thinking is less jail or prison time for convicted criminals is better. Felons carry guns and don't worry about it.
One of the reasons the Taliban became so popular in Afghanistan is they brought law and order through harsh punishments for criminals. Crime went way down when they took over an area.
All politics to the side... this isn't a Republicans vs. Democrats, Conservatives vs. Progressives, or any other such silliness issue. It is just we adults trying to protect our children, an instinct as old as humanity itself. I really pray that the politically inclined folks in our country realize someday just how much viewing the world through their political filters, constrains them! And I'm not singling out anyone in the YLE community! Politics is always a factor of course, but it is a Procrustean bed at best--it narrows the available options
Thank you YLE for this courageous article. Most responsible gun owners that I know, including myself would not have an issue with safety. Storage is safety. In my opinion, this moves the conversation to a more non-partisan arena where incremental change can begin making an impact. We need to begin thinking in terms of saving one human life at a time. Those numbers add up. Our divided, all-or-nothing approach is going nowhere fast. Meanwhile, more children are dying.
Dr. Jetelina: thank you for highlighting this most concerning public health crisis. While policy certainly plays an important role in prevention, as a psychologist, I think we should also be considering underlying causal factors. Columbia professor and psychologist Dr. Lisa Miller has done some groundbreaking work demonstrating the importance of spirituality in reducing risk-taking behavior in adolescence by 50-80%. Here’s a link:https://www.tc.columbia.edu/articles/2022/january/deeper-look-at-lisa-millers-case-for-spirituality/
Seems that looking at and treating larger underlying contributory factors ought to be a part of our strategy in reducing these tragic and unnecessary deaths of our American children.
Lisa Braun Glazer, Ph.D.
I hadn't noticed this before, but looking at the map today, there is WV - a blue "lower risk" dot in the midst of yellow and brown. We lived in WV for 10 years and all of our kids took "Gun Safety" class as a part of the normal middle school curriculum. Our family doesn't own guns but many families do, and many hunt for food. Perhaps routine public school education on gun safety as well as secure storage could help reduce the death toll.
I'd be amazed if Florida didn't try to stop people from doing even these basic acts of self protection. Did you know that in 2014 Florida actually passed a law banning insurance companies - all lines of insurance - from experience rating gun ownership? Effectively, outlawing math?