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February 2015

Teens and Gun TraffickingA Call for Pediatric Advocacy

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Adolescent Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(2):105-106. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.2851

At a meeting of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization in April 2013, Mirna Luz Ramos takes the microphone. With a cracking voice and tears, she talks about her 19-year-old son, Jorge. He was shot and killed while walking the dog outside of her home. She found him dying on the sidewalk. As she talks, many in the audience are weeping with her.

Statistically speaking, this young man is the face of pediatric gun death. Homicides account for close to two-thirds of all gun deaths of young people 19 years and younger.1 Gunshots (from both suicide and homicide) are the second biggest killer of teens and the top killer of black teens.2 Yet, stories like Jorge’s garner far less attention in the popular press than do the unintentional shooting deaths of children. Unintentional shootings—which sometimes involve very young children who find a gun in a parent’s or friend’s home—account for only 4% of pediatric gun deaths.1

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