More American children are dying from firearms than from car accidents, and the disparity is even greater depending on race. Black children in the US are 11 times more likely to die from guns than their white counterparts, according to a new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The study aimed to evaluate new 2021 data on US pediatric firearm deaths and disparities, comparing it with annual numbers dating back to 2018, before the covid pandemic. The researchers found that firearm deaths among children and adolescents surpassed motor vehicle fatalities, making them the leading cause of death for that group since 2020. From 2018 to 2021, there was a 41.6% increase in the total firearm death rate.
US pediatric firearm deaths rose in 2021, topping the spike in 2020, with worsening disparities. In 2021, among children who died by firearms, 84.8% were male, 49.9% were Black, 82.6% were aged 15 to 19, and 64.3% died by homicide. Black children accounted for 67.3% of firearm homicides, with a death rate increase of 1.8 percent from 2020 to 2021. Meanwhile, white children accounted for 78.4% of firearm suicides.
Firearm purchases surged in the US during the pandemic, which may have led to more gun violence, according to another study in Springer Nature. From January 2018 through February 2020, the average statewide monthly rate of firearm injuries from non-domestic violence was 0.98 per 100,000 Americans, while the equivalent rate for domestic violence–related firearm injuries was 0.05 per 100,000. From March through July 2020, the average monthly rates grew to 1.36 and 0.07 per 100,000, respectively.
Researchers for the Springer Nature study estimate that about 30 million American children live in households with guns, a known risk factor for pediatric firearm injury. In recent years, pediatric firearm deaths from all intents have increased, with homicides accounting for most—unlike adult gun fatalities, where suicide is the main driver.