Tag Archives: gun violence

Fact Check: Gun violence surpasses car accidents as the leading cause of death for people ages 1 to 19

A young girl places on March 28, 2023, places an item at a growing memorial for the victims of the shooting at the entry to The Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn. (AP)

PolitiFact, by Amy Sherman, March 29, 2023

A woman who survived a mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, in 2022 made a passionate plea for gun safety legislation in front of TV cameras after a mass school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.

Mom and mass shooting survivor Ashbey Beasley

After a police official finished a briefing on the deadly school shooting that left three 9 year olds and three adults dead, Ashbey Beasley stepped in front of the microphones.

“How is this still happening? How are our children still dying and why are we failing them? Gun violence is the number one killer of children and teens — it has overtaken cars,” Beasley said March 27.

Beasley told PolitiFact that she was in Washington, D.C., on March 24 to attend the Generation Lockdown rally, where activists and lawmakers gathered to support an assault weapons ban, and then traveled to Nashville to see family and a friend. Beasley became a gun safety activist after she and her son, then 6 years old, survived the Highland Park mass shooting during a July 4 parade.

After previous mass shootings, including at a school in Uvalde, Texas, we fact-checked U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who said that “the leading cause of death among children is a firearm.” We rated his statement Mostly True based on analyses of 2020 federal data. The same finding holds true for 2021 data on children and teenagers ages 1 to 19.

Data shows firearm deaths surpassed motor vehicle deaths
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes data on the leading causes of death among different demographic groups.
CDC data for 2021 shows that 23,198 people ages 1 to 19 died in 2021. Firearm deaths, 4,733, were the No. 1 cause. Motor vehicle traffic deaths ranked second at 4,048.

This data is similar to what researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions found when they analyzed CDC data for 2020 deaths. The lead researcher for that report confirmed that the same point held true for 2021.

Beasley told us she is careful to say “children and teens” because she has heard people dispute the statement when someone refers only to “children.” She told us she got the 2021 statistic from Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group.

Generally, researchers say they don’t include infants in their analyses because of certain conditions unique to babies.

It is technically correct to say that firearms are the leading cause of death for people aged 1 to 19 when they are combined into a single group, said Veronica Pear, an assistant professor in the Violence Prevention Research Program at University of California, Davis.

“This is an eye-catching and powerful statistic, so I get why people use it,” Pear said.

But Pear warned that someone could wrongly interpret the statement to mean that firearms are the leading cause of death for each individual age within the 1 to 19 range.

Firearm-related deaths are exceedingly rare among babies and young children, while teenagers, especially older teenagers, have very high rates of dying from firearm-related injuries, Pear said.

“When all these ages are pooled together, the very high rates among teens are swamping the very low rate among young kids, such that firearms are the leading cause of death for the group as a whole,” Pear said.

The Nashville shooting occurred at The Covenant School, a small private Christian school serving preschool through sixth grade. If we look at death data for ages 3 to 12, it shows firearms as the sixth leading cause.

However, researchers we interviewed said it is valid to look at firearm deaths for ages 1 to 19. David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, told us there is no official definition of “children.”

Hemenway co-wrote a perspective article for the New England Journal of Medicine about causes of death for people ages 1 to 24.

“For more than 60 years, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of injury-related death among young people. Beginning in 2017, however, firearm-related injuries took their place to become the most common cause of death from injury,” the article said. “This change occurred because of both the rising number of firearm-related deaths in this age group and the nearly continuous reduction in deaths from motor vehicle crashes.”

The CDC cites the 15 leading causes of death for people ages 1 to 19, but it does not pluck out firearm deaths. This data shows the top causes of death are accidents, homicide and suicide — all cagetories that include some firearm-related deaths.

The CDC does not classify firearms as a cause of death, but rather as a mechanism by which death occurs. “So, while our data does not allow us to say that firearms are the leading cause of death for this age group, it does show that firearms are the leading mechanism of injury mortality,” Brian Tsai, a CDC National Center of Health Statistics spokesperson, told PolitiFact.

Patrick M. Carter, co-director of the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention at the University of Michigan, and Philip Cook, a professor emeritus at Duke University and gun researcher, both told us they agree it is accurate to say that in the 1 to 19 age category firearms are the leading cause of death.

PolitiFact ruling

Beasley said, “Gun violence is the number one killer of children and teens — it has overtaken cars.”

CDC data for 2021 shows that for people ages 1 to 19, firearm-related deaths ranked No. 1, followed by deaths from car accidents.

That’s for the age range as a whole; it is not the leading cause of death for each age in that group. Firearm-related deaths are far more common among older teenagers than among young children.

We rate this statement Mostly True. [See the sources for this fact-check]

PolitiFact researcher Caryn Baird and Senior Correspondent Louis Jacobson contributed to this report.


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Analysis: The U.S. Is the Only Country Among Its Peers in Which Guns Are the Leading Cause of Death Among Children and Teens

KFF Analysis Finds Firearms are the Leading Cause of Death for Children in the United States but Rank No Higher Than Fifth in Other Industrialized Nations

Sierra Sun Times, July 9, 2022

Firearms are now the number one cause of death for children in the United States, but rank no higher than fifth in 11 other large and wealthy countries, a new KFF analysis finds.

Click image to enlarge.

Guns – including accidental deaths, suicides, and homicides – killed 4,357 children (ages 1-19 years old) in the United States in 2020, or roughly 5.6 per 100,000 children.

In each of the peer countries, guns kill fewer children than motor vehicles, cancer, congenital diseases, and other injuries, and often behind other conditions such as heart disease.

The U.S. is the only country among its peers that has seen a substantial increase in the rate of child firearm deaths in the last two decades (42%). All comparably large and wealthy countries have seen child firearm deaths fall since 2000. These peer nations had an average child firearm death rate of 0.5 per 100,000 children in the year 2000, falling 56% to 0.3 per 100,000 children in 2019.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation


Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, study by Matt McGough, Krutika Amin, Nirmita Panchal and Cynthia Cox, Jul 08, 2022

Jon Stewart to conservative state senator: ‘you don’t give a flying f**k’

Jon Stewart’s Interview with Gun Violence Extremist, Oklahoma State Sen. Nathan Dahm

Stick with the video to the end, when Stewart totally destroys this bozo’s ridiculous argument. Jon Stewart is an amazing prosecutor!

YouTube, “The Problem With Jon Stewart”, March 3, 2023
State Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-OK) has penned several bills loosening gun restrictions, including the nation’s first anti-red flag law against restricting gun access to those deemed dangerous. Not only does he want to protect the Second Amendment, but he also believes guns make us safer.

Stephen Golub: Guns: Here We Go Again… and again…and again…

Unhappy New Year

A Promised Land, by Stephen Golub, January 25, 2023

Benicia author Stephen Golub, Benicia CA, A Promised Land

California has kicked off 2023 with a bang: two mass shootings in 72 hours. (Mass shootings constitute events in which four or more people are injured or killed, not including the murderer.) This has probably been the country’s most massacre-intensive January ever – and certainly since the Gun Violence Archive started tracking this data in 2014. Only a small fraction of these nearly twice-daily horrors (647 in 2022) gets much media coverage. Still, this seems like a nightmarish Groundhog Day.

Over the course of nearly nine years, the satirical, fake news outlet the Onion has regularly summarized such slaughters 30 times with the same headline,  “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

I won’t regurgitate most of the grisly statistics you’ve heard before. But it’s worth noting a few:

Family Values

Here’s one more statistical nugget: America is the only wealthy country in which gun violence is the top cause of death for children and teens.

The comparative data leaves other rich nations buried (so to speak) in the dust. Firearms killed 4,357 young people here in 2020. The next highest nations, based on a recent research review of selected similar societies: Canada and France, with 48 each. Correcting for Canada’s far smaller population, its gun mortality rate for folks aged one to 19 is still less than 10 percent of ours.

Even that shameful ratio under-represents how bad our relative situation is. Canada and France themselves have much higher rates than other wealthy nations. The next highest number on the list is that of Germany, where only 14 young people died due to guns in 2020. Given that its population is one-quarter of ours, that figure would extrapolate to just 56 if we were the same size.

Why?

Now, this is not to say that most gun-owners are fanatics about their weapons. Many are responsible, or support at least some gun safety measures, or legitimately use firearms for protection or hunting.

Still, why are so many Americans (though by no means the majority ) so dedicated to deadly weapons, including assault rifles?

Pick your poison. The National Rifle Association. Our distorted democracy. The self-perpetuating cycle of easy access and ease of use making for a way of life. The legacy of racial animus. The fear of guns being taken away, which drives the purchase of yet more. The related conviction that more guns equal more protection from more guns. Gun collection as a hobby. Americans loving (ahem) Freedom, as long as it’s that of a gun owner and not a gun victim. The reliance on a Second Amendment adopted at a time of muskets and citizen militias. Or maybe all of the above.

There’s yet another view of what drives our gun culture and gun deaths, courtesy of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film Terminator 2. Though the context for this clip was the threat of nuclear holocaust, it works equally well for a different kind of self-destruction:

Another answer is even simpler and better than the one Ahnold offers. It’s asserted by the Australian comic Jim Jefferies, in mimicing a hypothetical American gun devotee:

“I like guns!”

Here are the two parts of Jeffries’ brilliant commentary on Americans’ penchant for firearms – though be forewarned, he’s very profane, is politically incorrect, and employs a word that’s apparently much more commonly accepted in Australia than here:

A Shot at Success?

Is there any light at the end of the gun barrel? There are glimmers of hope.

In 2022, the United States adopted the first national gun control law in decades, with even a bit of Republican buy-in. It looks like legislators voting for the bill suffered few if any negative electoral consequences. Though an increasing number of states have adopted “open carry” laws – which allow gun owners to carry firearms in public without the need for permits – last year also saw a range of state-level victories for gun safety.

As I’ve noted, loads of evidence indicates that countries and states with stronger gun laws have lower rates of gun deaths; maybe someday such data will mean something for our nation’s public policy.

In fact, we’ve seen instances of public opinion or legislation shifting on other issues more than previously thought possible. The examples range from acceptance of gay and lesbian marriage to last year’s so-called Inflation Reduction Act, which for all of its flaws was an unprecedented environmental step forward.

Still, manyof us have remained politically unmoved by the Sandy Hook and Uvalde school massacres, by a lone Las Vegas gunman murdering 60 concert-goers and injuring over 400 others, and by so many other atrocities that we lose count.

Now, the sure way to lose the fight is to lose hope. But for now, Americans face the reality of constantly shooting ourselves in the foot, the head, and everywhere in-between.


Stephen Golub, Benicia – A Promised Land: Politics. Policy. America as a Developing Country.

Benicia resident Stephen Golub offers excellent perspective on his blog, A Promised Land:  Politics. Policy. America as a Developing Country.

To access his other posts or subscribe, please go to his blog site, A Promised Land.