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JAMA Pediatrics Patient Page
April 2015

Keeping Children and Adolescents Safe From Firearms

JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(4):412. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.2122

Firearm-related deaths continue to be one of the top 3 causes of death among US children and adolescents.

Of all injury deaths of youths 15 to 19 years of age in the United States in 2009, more than 1 in 4 were related to firearms (28.7%). Firearm-related deaths are associated with unintentional shootings, suicides, and homicides.

Unintentional shootings typically happen when a child or adolescent shoots a gun and kills another person, usually a friend or sibling. The risk of adolescent suicide is strongly associated with the availability of a firearm and is particularly high if the firearm is kept loaded. Laws that require the safe storage of firearms are associated with lower rates of adolescent suicide. In 2009, more than 80% of all homicides of youths 15 to 19 years of age were firearm-related homicides. Most homicides occur during interpersonal conflict, typically between relatives, friends, or acquaintances.